Mike Strange: Has brutal schedule masked Vols' improvement?

Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) runs with the ball during the first half against Auburn in Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov in Knoxville. Tenn. 9, 2013.     (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2013

Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) runs with the ball during the first half against Auburn in Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov in Knoxville. Tenn. 9, 2013. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Coaching 101: The idea is to get better as the season progresses. To be playing better football in November than in September.

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Comments » 23

magicbyswh#221420 writes:

Jancek stated we we get a chance to see this week against Vanderbilt if we have improved. That is a shame we have to now be able to show improvement against Vanderbilt a long time bottom dweller in the SEC. This just shows how far our program had dropped. Jancek was fired at Georgia for poor defense. Now his defense has to show improvement against Vandy. If you look at this defense vs last year we are really on par to be as bad or worse. We just have not given up alot of long TD runs. Unless we win the last 2 games there will be no imporvement from last year till this year except the commitments for 2014. I do not think Jancek was the right hire on defense. I hope Butch knows what he is doing with hiring a previous fired defensive coach to be his coordinator.

gc_scvol writes:

INHO...When the season began, most Tennessee Fans stated that the most they could ask for was for the team to improve as the year progressed. Most stated that the rebuilding would take a couple years at best. It has been less than a season and I, for one, have seen vast improvement in the program. Have we won as many as I would have liked..No. Have we improved? Yes. Not to make excuses, but we have a a horrible schedule to rebuild on. Look past the cliches to the facts. I feel as though we really can tell after the VU game how much improvement we have made. (See last years results). Patience isn't really one of my strong points, however, I think progress is being made, and we should give the coaching staff time to show us what they can do. Again, not offering excuses, but this hasn't really been a great year year for evaluation. I trust the coaching staff to know what they are doing and feel as though they are sticking to their plan. Get behind OUR VOLS and help. Fill the stadium, be optimistic, rather than complaining all the time and see in the next year or two what the end result is. I believe in this staff and feel as though it may need to be tweeked a little, but the staff is a huge part of the program, and after all isn't that what we are trying to rebuild, the program. Enjoy the highs, lend support during the lows, and quit worrying about instant gratification. Time will tell, and only time, not the resu;ts of one game.Time to take VU to the wood shed and move forward. ALL VOL...ALL THE TIME..!!!!

slov writes:

Virtually all coordinators are "previously fired"

GerryOP writes:

Gee, under Dooley building a foundation and improving did not matter. Only Ws and Ls mattered. Under Butch, Ws and Ls don't matter. Building a foundation and improving are all that matter. And now, our performance against Vandy and 'Tucky become our benchmarks? Wow, how we have fallen...

johndavid writes:

I'm concerned about our coaching on the defensive side of the ball also!

gc_scvol writes:

W's & L's certainly do still matter. It's just that if you only focus on the destination and not the journey it makes it a lot more difficult to reach that destination. And that is fact, not just slinging clichés. Look I want to win every game as much or more than the next guy. But acute depression and pessimism doesn't accomplished anything. Don't jump off that bridge just yet. Support our Vols, fight like hell, never give up and good times are ahead. GUARANTEED. . ALL VOL... ALL THE TIME. ..

underthehill writes:

The football program as a whole may be better than last year..this team is not..the attitude of the fan base is better..I have heard very few complaints about Jones..most fans who understand the game of football seem to have accepted the fact the the Vols lack the speed and talent to compete for a title in the SEC..the recruiting outlook alone is a vast improvement over last year..the Vandy game is by far the most important game of the year for both teams..regardless of how the coaches of both teams try to downplay it..they know it..UT has to play their best to have a chance..

bUTch__please writes:

Improvements from last year...

1. Potential 2A sanctions eliminated with dramatic GPA improvement.

2. No mug shots. No undisclosed text records between coaches and athletes in regards to a capitol crime occurring on campus involving multiple team members.

3. At this time, 2nd highest ranked recruiting class in the nation.

4. On pace for the most rushing yards in a season since 2004.

5. Lettermen are a substantial part of our program. A world-class reach out program has healed decades of wounds.

6. Team #118 is a legacy class...Berry twins sound familiar?

7. Coaches and players love and respect each other...tremendous wounds have been salved.

8. Neyland has demonstrated it's energy and power again...GA game? USC game?

9. Spurrier will not go to Atlanta this year thanks to Team #117.

10. Team #117's physical play destroyed FLA and GA's seasons.

11. We will have the same coach next year. No recruiting class fire-drills, no new strength program, no new schemes/language.

12. 24 true and redshirt Freshmen played this year. Including the flight dynamics engineer who will line up behind center Saturday night.

...just off the top of my head.

underthehill writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Gee, under Dooley building a foundation and improving did not matter. Only Ws and Ls mattered. Under Butch, Ws and Ls don't matter. Building a foundation and improving are all that matter. And now, our performance against Vandy and 'Tucky become our benchmarks? Wow, how we have fallen...

It seems almost impossible for Vol fans to comprehend..Vandy is not what their history says they are..they are what they bring to the field at game time.. one of the few things the former coach had right..you are what your record says you are..Vandy is a good team and the Vols will have to play their best..my hope is Dobbs will have a great game..I don't expect the Vol defense to win the game..

underthehill writes:

in response to bUTch__please:

Improvements from last year...

1. Potential 2A sanctions eliminated with dramatic GPA improvement.

2. No mug shots. No undisclosed text records between coaches and athletes in regards to a capitol crime occurring on campus involving multiple team members.

3. At this time, 2nd highest ranked recruiting class in the nation.

4. On pace for the most rushing yards in a season since 2004.

5. Lettermen are a substantial part of our program. A world-class reach out program has healed decades of wounds.

6. Team #118 is a legacy class...Berry twins sound familiar?

7. Coaches and players love and respect each other...tremendous wounds have been salved.

8. Neyland has demonstrated it's energy and power again...GA game? USC game?

9. Spurrier will not go to Atlanta this year thanks to Team #117.

10. Team #117's physical play destroyed FLA and GA's seasons.

11. We will have the same coach next year. No recruiting class fire-drills, no new strength program, no new schemes/language.

12. 24 true and redshirt Freshmen played this year. Including the flight dynamics engineer who will line up behind center Saturday night.

...just off the top of my head.

Well stated..and I would add..we now have a coach with enough common sense to understand making excuses does not solve problems..

gc_scvol writes:

I wasn't trying to downplay the importance of the game with that team from nashville. It will tell us a lot abou this team.

bUTch__please writes:

in response to underthehill:

Well stated..and I would add..we now have a coach with enough common sense to understand making excuses does not solve problems..

..absolutely..and a coach who wants to win. HERE. Who's team is demonstrating that they are learning to win, finishing games until they're done and developing the same "want to". Stomping the entrails out of the commode-doors would be a nice demonstration.

OrangePride writes:

I hear so many of us once again saying to all who will listen what a terrible state of affairs it is that we have fallen so far we are using Kentucky and Vandy as measuring sticks for improvement. Not too long ago it was Florida and Alabama used as the litmus test for great seasons. Well everyone....news flash. We have all known how far this team has slipped since we lost to a quarterbackless Kentucky team two years ago. However, there is nothing about how far we fell that is the result of Butch Jones, so let's stop painting him with that brush. I frankly don't know how much we've improved this year because I don't see the practice sessions. I just know what we've seen these last three weeks does not speak to "improvement." So I will wait..again..and see what we look like Saturday. That HAS TO be better than last year or we will have people jumping out of XX2 in fits of quiet desperation! I still firmly believe we are going to have great seasons ahead under this coach, so I am just trying to CONTINUE to be patient! (I know, it's an annual refrain.. So I can only hope this time we got it right.)

OrangePride writes:

in response to johndavid:

I'm concerned about our coaching on the defensive side of the ball also!

After the last three games, who wouldn't be? It was like the ghost of Sunseri returned and took over. But in reality, it's pretty much the same cast of players this year as last, so perhaps we all had too high an expectation. Still, they played well against South Carolina and Georgia, both of whom have very decent offenses. It's really a Jekyll and Hyde group and we will have to see which of them shows up Saturday night. I am "cautiously" optimistic.

no1djkb#278630 writes:

Guys everything is a process. Lets just sit back and think about what the coach has to do.
1. CHANGE THE PLAYERS THINKING
You guys are smart. You know how damaging it can be to someone as young as these players if you lose all the time. Coach Jones should hire a professional Psychologist to help these guys get over the hump. I am sure he is battling confidence issues everyday. You could see how non aggressive the defensive players were in the last two games. The scheme seemed to be sound, it was not executed properly.
2. LACK OF SPEED
The defense looks so slow out there.
I watched the Georgia/Auburn game and especially in the second half, you could see how Georgia's players could make up for mistakes because they had great speed and when they were in the right position, the play went for negative yards mostly.
3. Talent
I honestly think the offense will be OK when Dobbs and the receivers get things together. Its the defense that needs all the talent they can get. When you keep starting Justin Coleman, you know we have a lack of talent. That guy has started since he has been here and has done a not so good job. You hate to put a kid down but hey when they are doing great they want all the pub so it has to go both ways.

GerryOP writes:

in response to underthehill:

The football program as a whole may be better than last year..this team is not..the attitude of the fan base is better..I have heard very few complaints about Jones..most fans who understand the game of football seem to have accepted the fact the the Vols lack the speed and talent to compete for a title in the SEC..the recruiting outlook alone is a vast improvement over last year..the Vandy game is by far the most important game of the year for both teams..regardless of how the coaches of both teams try to downplay it..they know it..UT has to play their best to have a chance..

"The football program as a whole may be better than last year..this team is not..the attitude of the fan base is better."

I agree with the above statement.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to underthehill:

It seems almost impossible for Vol fans to comprehend..Vandy is not what their history says they are..they are what they bring to the field at game time.. one of the few things the former coach had right..you are what your record says you are..Vandy is a good team and the Vols will have to play their best..my hope is Dobbs will have a great game..I don't expect the Vol defense to win the game..

Well said. I also think Dobbs will be the key to the game along with the receivers. The defense is what it is. I think Vandy will find ways to exploit it because the talent just isn't there. I am really into this game and I sure hope TN can pull it off. I think they will win if they play their best game. Vandy has probably one of it's best football teams and they are well coached.

murrayvol writes:

This team has an opportunity to end the season on a high note.....extend practice time.....go to a bowl albeit a lower caliber bowl than we'd hoped for.

We're good enough to beat Vandy if we play the way we did vs UGA & SC. We're bad enough to lose if we lay an egg.

Last year's team barely showed up in Nashville. I don't think that will happen this year.

Vols 24 Dores 20 (We cover)

asleep#212036 writes:

No matter how good or bad Jancik (or Jones for that matter) is, it's always been about talent in the SEC. Even the great Fulmer would tell you that. Certainly some coaches seem to be better coaching them up, ie, Saban and Franklin, and some seem to be adept at holding them back, that's you Miles, Richt, and Muschamp. However, it's very telling that in Bleacher Report's list of the SEC's top player on offense, defense, and special teams, only two teams had NO players listed: Kentucky and good ole' UT. None, nada, zilch.... Butch didn't come to UT to win now or even next year. What Dooley and Kiffin did to our program, combined with Phil's somewhat lackadaisical recruiting efforts his last few years, will take years to undo - yes, years. We are losing every single starter on our O- and D-lines this year and the only real defensive speed we will have for next season will be our incoming freshmen, redshirts, and JUCOs, meaning no SEC experience. So let's not hold our breaths about next year being a breakout either. However, IF Butch can hold this class together and get one more like it, then 2015-16 should be the year we begin to see real improvement, as in wins. Is Jancik the guy? I don't know because we have no team speed and this is their 3rd DC in as many years. One thing for sure: the guys on D with real SEC talent seem to be able to make their plays and the guys who don't can't. Like I said, it's all about the players in this league. Give Jancik better players and then judge his coaching ability.

That said, I think Vandy is a win simply because they can't stretch our defense like others have. The three teams that made us look the worst were Oregon, Mizzou, and Auburn - the three fastest teams on the schedule. Vandy? Not so much. Stop Matthews and you stop Vandy's offense cold. On the other side, Dobbs will have to have a good day as the 'Dores won't get caught out of position and work extremely well as a team, the product of a bunch of seniors and their non-SEC level of intellect. However, if we can punch out 185 yds/game rushing against the schedule we've played thus far, I feel like we can certainly run against Vandy. If we can run, Dobbs will definitely be able to throw some. I'm no pie in the sky optimist but it's all about matchups and for once we match up pretty well with Vandy, just like Georgia and S Carolina - and they don't have near the talent of either of those teams, on either side of the ball. Go Vols!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to OrangePride:

I hear so many of us once again saying to all who will listen what a terrible state of affairs it is that we have fallen so far we are using Kentucky and Vandy as measuring sticks for improvement. Not too long ago it was Florida and Alabama used as the litmus test for great seasons. Well everyone....news flash. We have all known how far this team has slipped since we lost to a quarterbackless Kentucky team two years ago. However, there is nothing about how far we fell that is the result of Butch Jones, so let's stop painting him with that brush. I frankly don't know how much we've improved this year because I don't see the practice sessions. I just know what we've seen these last three weeks does not speak to "improvement." So I will wait..again..and see what we look like Saturday. That HAS TO be better than last year or we will have people jumping out of XX2 in fits of quiet desperation! I still firmly believe we are going to have great seasons ahead under this coach, so I am just trying to CONTINUE to be patient! (I know, it's an annual refrain.. So I can only hope this time we got it right.)

RIGHT ON, buddy! Enough with the "Oh, how far we have fallen, comparing ourselves with Vandy, etc., etc." You hit the nail on the head. YES, we have fallen; that's why CBJ is here NOW, not WHY we have fallen! No question it will be a bitter blow to nearly all of us, including the team and the staff, if the Vols can't handle Vandy and UK. Given what they started with, and what they have had to face this season, I'm amazed those guys still turn out for practice every day and work their tails off with so little to show for it so far. The record could be a lot better if the Vols had had the schedule of more than half of the SEC. EVEN IF they should stumble the next two weeks, it is STILL too early to give up on CBJ as the man to ultimately get the program fixed. We MUST give him AT LEAST the three years Dooley got to get the numbers and talent level back to where we can compete without one hand tied behind our collective backs. I just don't know what to make of anybody who calls himself a Vol fan who can't see that progress toward the ultimate goal is being made, even if we don't see the number of wins and losses we want RIGHT NOW! As for me, GBO!!! GCBJ!!!

jimmywooliver#1426531 writes:

in response to magicbyswh#221420:

Jancek stated we we get a chance to see this week against Vanderbilt if we have improved. That is a shame we have to now be able to show improvement against Vanderbilt a long time bottom dweller in the SEC. This just shows how far our program had dropped. Jancek was fired at Georgia for poor defense. Now his defense has to show improvement against Vandy. If you look at this defense vs last year we are really on par to be as bad or worse. We just have not given up alot of long TD runs. Unless we win the last 2 games there will be no imporvement from last year till this year except the commitments for 2014. I do not think Jancek was the right hire on defense. I hope Butch knows what he is doing with hiring a previous fired defensive coach to be his coordinator.

You people need to get real we were hoping for a 6 and 6 record when this season began we knew or should have known we were behind in talent and speed you don't fire coaches for coaching inferior talent lets get the talent see how they improve before we start another firing binge we see where that has gotten us I don't know what you all are watching but I see players who are playing harder than I have seen the past four to five years and that's a credit and yes improvement from a coaching stand point so quit being so negative and get behind and support these guys

gc_scvol writes:

in response to jimmywooliver#1426531:

You people need to get real we were hoping for a 6 and 6 record when this season began we knew or should have known we were behind in talent and speed you don't fire coaches for coaching inferior talent lets get the talent see how they improve before we start another firing binge we see where that has gotten us I don't know what you all are watching but I see players who are playing harder than I have seen the past four to five years and that's a credit and yes improvement from a coaching stand point so quit being so negative and get behind and support these guys

Like the way you think. +1

bfaj34#1436246 writes:

in response to gc_scvol:

INHO...When the season began, most Tennessee Fans stated that the most they could ask for was for the team to improve as the year progressed. Most stated that the rebuilding would take a couple years at best. It has been less than a season and I, for one, have seen vast improvement in the program. Have we won as many as I would have liked..No. Have we improved? Yes. Not to make excuses, but we have a a horrible schedule to rebuild on. Look past the cliches to the facts. I feel as though we really can tell after the VU game how much improvement we have made. (See last years results). Patience isn't really one of my strong points, however, I think progress is being made, and we should give the coaching staff time to show us what they can do. Again, not offering excuses, but this hasn't really been a great year year for evaluation. I trust the coaching staff to know what they are doing and feel as though they are sticking to their plan. Get behind OUR VOLS and help. Fill the stadium, be optimistic, rather than complaining all the time and see in the next year or two what the end result is. I believe in this staff and feel as though it may need to be tweeked a little, but the staff is a huge part of the program, and after all isn't that what we are trying to rebuild, the program. Enjoy the highs, lend support during the lows, and quit worrying about instant gratification. Time will tell, and only time, not the resu;ts of one game.Time to take VU to the wood shed and move forward. ALL VOL...ALL THE TIME..!!!!

Thank you.

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