Adams: Vols are young, but so is Alabama

John Adams

Tennessee players might be most concerned about Alabama’s defense and running game. But UT fans might find the Alabama depth chart more bothersome.

Check out the seniors in the starting lineup. All four of them.

The Tide entered the 2010 season as a defending national champion with 24 consecutive regular-season victories, a Heisman Trophy winner at running back, another running back just as good behind him, and the foundation already laid for a Nick Saban statue. That was enough to make it a consensus No. 1 pick in preseason.

That also was enough to obscure the fact that Alabama could be even better in 2011.

I’m not suggesting the Tide is out of the running for the 2010 national title. With unbeaten LSU and Auburn yet to come on its schedule, there’s still plenty of potential for a surge in the BCS rankings. My more distant view is aimed at the competition and the challenge of overcoming the powers that be in the SEC.

The Vols have lost four of six games and are on course for possibly the worst season in school history. But when you peruse a depth chart sprinkled with so many freshmen and sophomores, you can envision better days ahead.

Contrast that with the Tide, which is 6-1 and still in the running for the national title. Yet its depth chart has even more youthful appeal.

Nine of UT’s 24 starters, including the placekicker and punter, are freshmen or sophomores. Alabama’s starting lineup includes 11 freshmen or sophomores, and that increases to 12 if redshirt freshman offensive tackle D.J. Fluker is healthy enough to play.

The senior gap looks wider than the 17-point spread. UT will start 11 seniors against Alabama on Saturday night. The Tide will start four.

I realize a handful of Tide juniors could turn pro early. I also realize NFL personnel directors couldn’t tell you the name of a handful of UT juniors.

So Alabama could lose Heisman winner Mark Ingram and have to scrape by with Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy at running back next season. What a hardship, huh?

Aside from the Tide’s depth of talent at running back, its most apparent strengths are in the offensive line and front seven on defense. And it should be even stronger next season when it returns all but one starter and one backup from its first- and second-team offensive lines; the large majority of starters and backups on the defensive front seven return as well.

Another depth-chart discrepancy worth nothing: UT’s starters and backups on the front seven average 245 pounds; Alabama’s average 264 and hardly look weighted down in their pursuit of ballcarriers.

You overcome such disadvantages through recruiting. UT first-year head coach Derek Dooley salvaged a top-10 class for 2010, and his 2011 class has just cracked ESPN’s top 25.

Oh by the way, Alabama’s 2011 class is ranked second.

That’s what the Vols are up against in their comeback. It’s not enough that they do a lot of things right. They also have to hope that something goes wrong elsewhere.

For encouragement, perhaps they should look further east at another runaway rivalry.

A couple of months after preseason polls were touting Florida as a top-four regular nationally and practically giving it the SEC East by acclamation, the Gators are suddenly incapable of beating Mississippi State in The Swamp and have lost three consecutive conference games.

Imagine how different the Gators might look if quarterback Cameron Newton hadn’t transferred, or if former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen hadn’t taken the head coaching job at Mississippi State. But players transfer, coaches leave, things go wrong and the power structure changes.

Just the same, I’m penciling in Alabama as No. 1 for 2011.

John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 59

Down_The_Field writes:

blah.......blah.......blah......

born2ride writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Alabama is better than us.

dwa7#337691 writes:

early predict: sorry

Bammers 35
vols 13

OrangePride writes:

Look.....these games are not played on paper, they are played on the field. I remember a short time ago we had a number 1 or 2 recruiting class, came off a good previous season and were pre-season picked to be in the top 5 in the nation. Result? Well, we know the result and no sense reopening that wound. Alabama is going to be a top 5 preseason team for the foreseeable future......NOT THE POINT!!! How will Tennessee recruit, coach, and get themselves into the hunt....THAT'S THE POINT. And with or without you John, WE plan to be here, be loud, and be VOLS! GBO!

orangecountyvols writes:

It's getting to the point where once I see who's behind these articles, it's predictable to know the tone of what's written. No, I don't expect Adams to say anything glowing about the Vols, however he tells us so much of what we already know.

In the article, he always manages to interject his astute knowledge of the future. In other words, we know who's going to be #1 already next year. Adams reminds us of everyone coming back with huge numbers of returning starters and is quick to point out every
weakness the Vols have or will have. Since he works for the KNS, he doesn't nor will he ever bestow very complimentary remarks about the Volunteers. His allegiance drifts far away, to Bayou country. It must be hard for Louisianans such as Hyams and Adams to receive paychecks in Knoxville and reluctantly say anything favorably about Tennessee sports. They are supposed to be impartial.........just don't overdo it !

I will never understand how the University allowed those two guys to be on the sidelines coaching the O & W game. I understand why, but not how they got to do it.

volpreacher writes:

Here is the difference in UT being young and Alabama/Florida being young. UT plays the young guys and replaces them with young guys if they get subbed at all. Alabama/Florida plays young guys and subs or starts older guys. They have the depth. Depth is the whole issue here.

CrankE writes:

So then Alabama is so great because....you in the press said so, voting them #1 even though they lost a ton of starters on defense. Now Alabama may not even be the best team in their own division.

Florida is worthy of a preseason top 10 ranking because....they're Florida. The Gatrolls have looked bad all season, ultimately losing 3 straight in the east including a loss to the team that firedronzook.com,

scoring

only

one

touchdown.

At HOMECOMING.

In the swamp.

oops.

And now a purported sports journalist wants to tell you why (insert any team here) is so much better than Tennessee!?

Sorry, your credibility (if you had any) left a long time ago.

DooleysOrangePants writes:

wow adams i guess now that little timmy is gone from florida and they are no loger revelant your ut hatin azz is gonna jump right on the bama bandwagon. clown go to tuscaloser with finebaum

UTME06 writes:

We all hate this turd (Adams), but we all can't help but post on his hateful articles. That just keeps it going. If somehow, we could all contain our disdain for his straight up Vol bashing, maybe we could get rid of him... but, alas, that won't happen.

HEY KNS SENIOR MANAGEMENT: would you rather have a ton of hits because you have a staff full of professional sports beat writers (you know, the type that give us information about the team and it's athletes) or get a ton of hits because you have a resident home-team-hater?

This really is getting ridiculous. I don't expect roses when I come here, but come on. This guy writes the same article every other day just to take digs at us.

We are all aware he hails from rival SEC states... clearly he can't get a job for a team he can enjoy reporting for. So why do we have to prop up his arsehole-ness?

Only two more AL> UT articles before we transition to Spurrier is a better coach than Dooley, followed by Lattimore will dominate our D-line, followed by five reasons Memphis will own us.

Stop this nonsense KNS.

LongBeachVolsFan writes:

Bama may have young players contributing, but they also have veteran leadership at crucial positions on both sides of the ball. When you have a smart, efficient QB that manages the game well, and a beast at MLB. You can afford to surround them with young talent.

NoSirRee writes:

in response to CrankE:

So then Alabama is so great because....you in the press said so, voting them #1 even though they lost a ton of starters on defense. Now Alabama may not even be the best team in their own division.

Florida is worthy of a preseason top 10 ranking because....they're Florida. The Gatrolls have looked bad all season, ultimately losing 3 straight in the east including a loss to the team that firedronzook.com,

scoring

only

one

touchdown.

At HOMECOMING.

In the swamp.

oops.

And now a purported sports journalist wants to tell you why (insert any team here) is so much better than Tennessee!?

Sorry, your credibility (if you had any) left a long time ago.

The polls in general drive me crazy, but the worst is the AP poll. Its totally meaningless, yet they reference it constantly.

VOLliven2it writes:

Put away all the Adams hate and let's just play the game for heaven's sake, PLAY THE GAME!

ROCKYTOPBRAD writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GreerVol22 writes:

look, both teams are young, but the handful of 4-5 star guys that UT had the past few years have left the program. That is the difference...BAMAs fresh and soph's are 4-5 star guys ours are 2-3..and as a general observation, stars matter. This will take time and it will not be easy or fun to watch. Simms is a stop gap, Bray may well get the job come spring and we will be better as the line gets thicker.

rootin4volz writes:

Boy oh boy, Johnny, you're all over this "spread a little sunshine" thing this week, aren't ya? How about we pencil you OUT for the remainder of the 2010 season? Idiot.

tenecvol4 writes:

Help fans and alum-this is not directly related to this Bama blog- near my home is Oak Ridge Military Academy in Oak Ridge NC-- first year program a well known coach has recruited players from around the country from Texas to NJ- they have 13 Div I recruits - 7 have already received offers -- Maryland is one UNC - Fla State - and not sure on others but rumors is Oregon - Wash State and Cal but too far away for some guys-- this team is rolling over teams - one Trinity from down east had a 48-0 win streak and was beaten 43-0 -- their coach said " We just took a step closer to manhood tonight" Fl- Ga - LSU - NC State are rumored to be at Thursday game - my Alum buddy who knows the team well said several want to talk to UT -- the coach Yelverton who has a rep for placing his players in Div I has made several calls to UT but no one will return his calls !!! Unreal -- any ideas out there -- can local paper help? These guys at least deserve to have someone look at tapes - are we that loaded we dont need talent - and these are good kids with good grades -- It is a good Military Academy !!

Vol86 writes:

congrats adams. your the winner

Pullingguard writes:

Nothing wrong with telling it like it is... Alabama is destined to be year after year among the top of college football..Saban will recruit and keep them there... The Vols have always struggled to be on top of the SEC, and have not except for that 1 (one) year.. It's always been Florida, Alabama or LSU... Sure it hurts to know Alabama is not only younger but better and that leads one to believe nothing will really change in 2011 or 2012... Our beloved Vols are grouped with the mid to lower tier of the SEC and Dooley has challenge to change that within next 4/5 years.. Will he be successful? We can only wait and hope..In meantime whats use of degrading someone who tells it like it is...

lvhemphill#250428 writes:

I feel two things here first I truly believe Dooley when all said and done with will be know as a better football coach than Nick Saben. The second is after we get an even roster, we will immediately start dominating the conference not just that school from Tuscoolsa. Just my opinion that with Great coaching and an even rooster, we not Bama, Fl, aub, LSU, etc are the best team in the conference barr none.

Vol86 writes:

Ya know 3 weeks ago we could have had same article except with Fl. Stuff happens, ya just have to keep plugging away.

martinvol34 writes:

in response to jrod:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's not just about youth but where that youth plays by position. It's about can your seniors cover the youth or what experience that youth had coming into this year and whether they are true freshmen which ours are versus Bama's redshirt freshmen. Then consider depth and it's a different story. So know the facts. Consider the source. Then state your f'n complaints. The VOLS will rise again and in short order. Trust.

allvols4life writes:

I can't stand John Adams. Is he telling the truth? Yes. But why on consecutive days write how bad we are compared to Alabama? EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS THIS!!! What a joke for a sportswriter.

CCLC writes:

How did firing Chavis and Sanders help Tennessee? Chavis is outstanding at LSU and Sanders despite the difference in talent between Vols and Cats seems to be holding his own.

arkyvol writes:

are adams and finebaum related?

DooleysOrangePants writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

Nothing wrong with telling it like it is... Alabama is destined to be year after year among the top of college football..Saban will recruit and keep them there... The Vols have always struggled to be on top of the SEC, and have not except for that 1 (one) year.. It's always been Florida, Alabama or LSU... Sure it hurts to know Alabama is not only younger but better and that leads one to believe nothing will really change in 2011 or 2012... Our beloved Vols are grouped with the mid to lower tier of the SEC and Dooley has challenge to change that within next 4/5 years.. Will he be successful? We can only wait and hope..In meantime whats use of degrading someone who tells it like it is...

the problem is its the HOMETOWN paper. i guarentee you that you would never see a tuscaloosa paper talking mess about thier hometeam. the past 3 years he was timbow and floridas number one fan now that they stink he jumps right on the bama wagon. besides, hes only saying what eveybody already knows so why rub it in? thats the real question.

easleychuck writes:

in response to kcsbigorng:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Isn't Richardson only a true sophomore this year which means that he has to return for 2011?

easleychuck writes:

in response to allvols4life:

I can't stand John Adams. Is he telling the truth? Yes. But why on consecutive days write how bad we are compared to Alabama? EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS THIS!!! What a joke for a sportswriter.

Because at the end of the day, he is a "hater". Don't want him to be a "homer" but his brand of writing is pure bandwagon, can't stand bandwagon mentality in anybody. For a reporter to engage in this is beyond weak.

codybain13 writes:

recruiting rankings are a waste of time and make me sick. look at oregon, they dont have one 5 star player on their team. they might not have a 4 star until last year and they've been solid for a few years now. recruiting rankings mean nothing. its ridicuolous.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to VOLstuckINky:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He prints this because it's the dang truth.You guys need to realize that.Adams does not play the game,he only reports the results.The results will not change until our recruiting changes.Alabama and Florida will be better than us for a long while and that is the fact.I drink the Kool Aid as long as it isn't tainted.Today the Kool Aid is very tainted.Results will not change until we get bigger faster and depth in players.Coaching is still to be evaluated also.We will not know what they can or can not do for a couple more years at best.Do you guys really believe we can take a VW beetle and win a demolition derby against a Mack truck?

jomo11 writes:

The problem is Dooley...we have hired a coach who as a head coach in 3 1/2 years has ZERO victories over a team wiyh a winning record.....eye opening, huh

KFDLaw writes:

If you guys want to read some complimentary things about Dooley and our team try the Alabama papers. Saban praises Dooley and says Dooley deserves to be a head football coach. As a misplaced UT fan here in southern Alabama, it is refreshing to read some nice things about Dooley and our team. GO VOLS!!!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to CCLC:

How did firing Chavis and Sanders help Tennessee? Chavis is outstanding at LSU and Sanders despite the difference in talent between Vols and Cats seems to be holding his own.

Sanders was the scapegoat to allow Fulmer to keep his job. It did help in that it allowed Cutcliffe to come back. It was allowing Cut to leave again that really hurt the program.

Chavis? If the next coach's dad had been an offensive guru instead of a defensive guru, it might have been a different story.

volfan112 writes:

John Adams makes a living by bad mouthing UT sports in a Knoxville newspaper. Go jump off a cliff John.

thesharc#228787 writes:

While a Vol Fan for life, and someone who wants Dooley to succeed, I'm not sure we're going to close the gap between now and the end of the recruiting season.

We're not getting any of the upper echelon players. I'm not saying I believe that stars tell the whole story of a player, but it shows what the rest of the football world think of that players (who is recruiting him). We're getting the leftovers. Right now there are 7 SEC teams in front of our recruiting efforts, and SC is right behind us.

Man I hope Dooley can pull it out! These losses hurt my soul.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to CCLC:

How did firing Chavis and Sanders help Tennessee? Chavis is outstanding at LSU and Sanders despite the difference in talent between Vols and Cats seems to be holding his own.

Totally agree; I used to hate Sanders but given total control at KY he's looking like a genius compared to Clawsen and Chaney..Randy really knows how to use play action and misdirection against these fast;aggressive defenses.The cats are scoring and making first downs

givehim6 writes:

I've been reading on GVX all morning about how UT will fall on its rump this year how we will go win less in the SEC this year. I've reed this from post from JA and people committing on the post. I will tell you what I've seen of this team this year. A team that plays up for big games like Bama and USC and down for small games like Vandy and Memphis. So if CDD can turn the Vols around and play in small games well I do not predict a win in the rest of UT games, but hopefully 6 wins. If not, I do not see a 2-10 season. 5-8 maybe 4-9. I have not seen the Vols just give up totally on a season in my 40+ years, so please let's not jive up on them. GO VOLS! BEAT BAMA!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

This article is totally misleading!!!He should have gone to Rivals and looked at their depth chart..Outside of the kickers;Bama starts one freshman at OT(Fluker) and he's hurt..Their front seven has only 2 sophomores;same for the OLine..The core of the Bama team are Sophomores and Juniors..They definitely will not being lining up with 4 or more TRUE freshman on both sides of the line!!! Also Saban has the luxury of redshirting as opposed to UT starting them out of desperation

givehim6 writes:

OK after reading my post I ment if CDD can turn the Vols around to where we play well in small games,I do not see UT being win less.

VolFaninDC writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

Nothing wrong with telling it like it is... Alabama is destined to be year after year among the top of college football..Saban will recruit and keep them there... The Vols have always struggled to be on top of the SEC, and have not except for that 1 (one) year.. It's always been Florida, Alabama or LSU... Sure it hurts to know Alabama is not only younger but better and that leads one to believe nothing will really change in 2011 or 2012... Our beloved Vols are grouped with the mid to lower tier of the SEC and Dooley has challenge to change that within next 4/5 years.. Will he be successful? We can only wait and hope..In meantime whats use of degrading someone who tells it like it is...

UT has the second best winning percentage in the SEC, and the second most titles. What "(one)" year do you mean, '98, '97, '89, '85, etc.?

CoverOrange writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

This article is totally misleading!!!He should have gone to Rivals and looked at their depth chart..Outside of the kickers;Bama starts one freshman at OT(Fluker) and he's hurt..Their front seven has only 2 sophomores;same for the OLine..The core of the Bama team are Sophomores and Juniors..They definitely will not being lining up with 4 or more TRUE freshman on both sides of the line!!! Also Saban has the luxury of redshirting as opposed to UT starting them out of desperation

Don't bother JA with details. Takes away from his delusions of being a sports afficionado.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to VolFaninDC:

UT has the second best winning percentage in the SEC, and the second most titles. What "(one)" year do you mean, '98, '97, '89, '85, etc.?

Dont forget, UT also had the best regular season SEC record in 2001 and 2007 too.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

Adams when you going to get a life?? Already knowing whos going to be number 1 next year come on man give me abreak.Why dont you leave,just go somewhere where folks appericate this type of garbage

jobrando#216494 writes:

6 wins is expected this year to show we are moving forward. I think if we hit a school record of L's then we have regressed even farther back. Not a good start for CDD and company. I want believe less than 6 wins will happen.

buxavol writes:

I'm impressed with all things Dooley with one exception-recruiting. You can disparage the star rankings all you want. The fact is we're getting fewer high quality players than the top SEC teams in this 2010 recruiting year.
I don't buy the "well, we've been down a couple of years", or "coaching change", crapola. We are UT. We are second to none in facilities, fan support, and tradition! Either Dooley & Co. can sell UT to the big boys or they can't. I'm hopeful it's not what I truly fear-that Dooley, with a couple of years at La. Tech under his belt, believes recruiting at that level will get him wins in the SEC. It won't. You can train a mule as long as you want, he still isn't going to win the KY Derby.

cloudodust writes:

Adams' material ought to get posted on the Volunteers bulletin board weekly...GBO

ellerbee123 writes:

An excellent article on How Tennessee Got Where It Is AND I know you Fulmer lovers will hate this but Phil Fulmer dropped the ball both literally and figuratively. His first "sacraficial lamb" was Randy Sanders who, oddy enough, is doing quite well at Kentucky. David Cutcliff then came back and saved is big, fat a- -. After Cutcliff left, it was downhill from there. NO ONE IS TO BLAME FOR OUR LACK OF DEPTH BUT PHIL FULMER. If you people are so stupid that you cannot see that, then you must have an IQ of zip....

mercyseat writes:

in response to UTME06:

We all hate this turd (Adams), but we all can't help but post on his hateful articles. That just keeps it going. If somehow, we could all contain our disdain for his straight up Vol bashing, maybe we could get rid of him... but, alas, that won't happen.

HEY KNS SENIOR MANAGEMENT: would you rather have a ton of hits because you have a staff full of professional sports beat writers (you know, the type that give us information about the team and it's athletes) or get a ton of hits because you have a resident home-team-hater?

This really is getting ridiculous. I don't expect roses when I come here, but come on. This guy writes the same article every other day just to take digs at us.

We are all aware he hails from rival SEC states... clearly he can't get a job for a team he can enjoy reporting for. So why do we have to prop up his arsehole-ness?

Only two more AL> UT articles before we transition to Spurrier is a better coach than Dooley, followed by Lattimore will dominate our D-line, followed by five reasons Memphis will own us.

Stop this nonsense KNS.

If everyone would quit reading john adams articles that would put a stop to the replies, and he would be starved out at KNS.

mercyseat writes:

So...... LETS BOYCOT HIS AZZ!

mercyseat writes:

in response to jomo11:

The problem is Dooley...we have hired a coach who as a head coach in 3 1/2 years has ZERO victories over a team wiyh a winning record.....eye opening, huh

Not true, Technically we beat LSU and the referees know it!

TKO writes:

Bama kids are a bit faster.
Good point on Mullen JA. If he had stayed at Florida with Newton, Florida is undefeated.
But did TN lose a few kids to ...lets say...Yuma?

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features