Much of Tennessee’s football tradition goes back to Gen. Robert Neyland, one of the game’s greatest coaches.
And you can’t mention Neyland without bringing up his seven “Game Maxims,” which, based on UT’s recent seasons, are easier remembered than executed.
The Vols wouldn’t have lost seven games in each of the past three seasons if they had followed Neyland’s seven game maxims, which provide an outline for winning football.
One reads: “The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.”
Another: “Protect our kicker, our QB, our lead and our ballgame.”
Simple? You bet. And they’re as valid now as they were when Neyland first presented them.
But as the Vols open preseason practice this week, they shouldn’t limit themselves to the General’s maxims in their pursuit of improvement.
Another sure way to improve: Adhere to the “Eight Don’ts of Sal Sunseri.”
Like the General, Sunseri needs no introduction to UT fans.
In 2012, his one and only season as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator, his unit produced staggering statistics that — in the best of all Big Orange Worlds — will never be surpassed.
It was one failed chase scene after another. In fact, my dog had a better chance of catching a car than UT’s secondary did of overhauling an opponent from behind. And he’s 13 years old.
The cumulative damages under Sunseri: 471.3 yards allowed per game, 43 scores on 47 penetrations inside the UT red zone, and 35.7 points given up per game.
Remembering such statistics is the best way to avoid them.
Hence, the “Eight Don’ts of Sal Sunseri:”
1. Don’t allow Florida’s fullback to average better than 25 yards every time he touches the ball.
Last season, Trey Burton had three carries for 91 yards and two catches for 38 yards.
2. Don’t give up more than four touchdowns to Georgia’s tailbacks.
Last season, Todd Gurley scored three and Keith Marshall had two.
3. Don’t allow Alabama’s best receiver to gain more than 161 yards.
Last season, Amari Cooper had seven catches for 162 yards.
4. Don’t let more than one South Carolina receiver to gain more than 100 yards.
Last season, Justin Cunningham had 108 yards and Bruce Ellington had 101.
5. Don’t allow a Sun Belt Conference opponent to gain more than 720 yards in Neyland Stadium.
Last season, Troy had 721 yards.
6. Don’t allow a Missouri running back to almost get his per-game rushing average on one play.
Last season, Kendial Lawrence had a 77-yard run against the Vols. That was only eight yards less than his per-game average.
7. Don’t let a pedestrian Kentucky quarterback complete more than 28 passes.
Although the Vols beat the Wildcats by 20 points last season, they still gave up 29 completions to Jalen Whitlow.
8. Don’t allow Vanderbilt’s best player to average 20 yards per play.
Last season, wide receiver Jordan Matthews gained 162 yards on seven pass receptions and one run.