Taking time to talk a little Tennessee Vols

Published 12:54 am Friday, February 19, 2021

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It has been quite a while that I have taken time to talk about one of my favorite collegiate universities in the University of Tennessee and its sports programs so I thought instead of shooting out tweets or Facebook thoughts, I would just share these with my loyal readers of Sports Chatter.

So, let’s just start with the Vols men’s basketball team.

I have found when watching Coach Rick Barnes’s squad that it is appropriate to have a bottle of Tums or Rolaids sitting nearby because one never knows which team will take the floor from game to game.

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You might get the team that can shoot the lights out as they did against Kansas or South Carolina or the team that decided to take the day off against Missouri and LSU.

There is no doubt about the talent that Barnes has on his roster as evidenced by the play of his two big-time freshmen Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson.

However, the disappointment so far personally for me comes from the performance of upperclassmen Yves Pons and Kingsport’s John Fulkerson who had been placed on many pre-season watch lists.

When this team is clicking, there is no better team in the country but when they put on their Jekyll and Hyde performance it doesn’t take long to find something else to occupy my prime time watching experience.

As a matter of fact, I have almost exclusively tried to watch former local phenom Mac McClung and his Texas Tech Red Raiders play a Big 12 game.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still love Tennessee because I am orange through and through.

This team needs to decide what their identity is and play to that identity. Often I wonder if there isn’t a little backdoor drama due to the play of those freshmen I mentioned earlier.

Time will tell, but for a team that was selected to be at the top of the pack in the SEC to fourth in the standings currently has got to now battle to the end of the regular season and be on high alert during the SEC tournament if they are to make the field of 65 in Indianapolis for the National Championship playoffs.

Switching gears to football and new head coach Josh Heupel, while the coach hasn’t even coached his first game in the orange and white, I have never heard so many negative comments on social media about Heupel’s hire as many have written the coach off before his first game at the helm of the Vols.

My thoughts are I like the direction that Heupel is taking in his coaching hires and I believe that Tim Banks as a defensive coordinator will prove to be a steal from Penn State.

I also like the statements that came from quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle who has stated that they will allow their quarterbacks to be wide open with the understanding they are going to make mistakes but that will happen especially in the vertical downfield offense Heupel likes to run.

Fans have been accustomed to a bland offense in the most recent years but it is entirely possible that Heupel’s offensive schemes will bring excitement to Neyland Stadium that hasn’t been experienced in a long time.

Obviously, it will be a while before fans will see exactly what the new look Volunteers will bring to the field, but I, for one, am excited to once again cover the Vols when they take the field in a new season in 2021.