From the Other Sideline – Tennessee
This week I interviewed David Wells, famed MLB pitcher who threw a perfect game for the Yankees with a self-proclaimed hangover. Oh wait, sorry this is the David Wells (Twitter) from The Daily Beacon, UT’s student newspaper. Special thanks to all the UT columnists and beat reporters who were too busy to answer a few questions for a stupid Auburn blog. David has done the best interview to date, but also needs the biggest beating. You’ll see what I’m talking about.
1. What is the first thing that pops into the heads of Tennesse fans when Auburn football is mentioned?
2004. In the last 12 match ups between these two schools, nine have been decided by ten or fewer points, including the 2004 SEC championship game. But in all honesty, Auburn hasn’t been on the mind of UT fans lately as much as Florida and UT quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who has thrown and average of two interceptions per game this season and who had only two games without a turnover last year. They should be thinking more of Auburn, considering the Tigers are undefeated and have not had a game within ten points yet.
2. What do most Tennessee fans think of Lane Kiffin, and what are their expectations for Tennessee football under his tutelage?
Kiffin is quite popular and he has a lot of faith among the UT faithful. This is mainly because of two things: 1) UT is back in the press and 2) UT is recruiting. Kiffin and Co. took away Bryce Brown from Miami when he was nearly dead set and Brown has produced, being UT’s second leading receiver as a running back. They expect UT to be a factor in the East and finally get the Vols back to business (i.e., beating Florida, Georgia and Bama).
3. What are most Tennesee fans’ expectations for this game?
Depends on who you talk to. Rocky Top Talk, my favorite UT blog, has Auburn winning 28-23. Some of the players think it is going to be close. I think that it will come down to three things: turnovers, time of possession and the red zone. UT’s offense can get to the red zone. Crompton does have talent and he has a heck of a running game behind him, but the Vols have either ended their drives with a turnover (usually a pick) or a field goal. I’m looking forward to seeing UT’s defense go head-to-head with Auburn’s spread and seeing how fast our linebackers really are. They’ll need pursuit and good contain if they hope to stop the run.
4. Auburn and Tennessee had very similar seasons last year, at least in terms offensive ineptitude. How do you think each team as done in their attempts to better their situations?
Auburn’s improved from last year in deciding on a quarterback and trusting him while not just benching Kodi Burns. In addition, I have doubts that the Tigers could have taken advantage of the turnovers last year like they did this year against West Virginia. I know UT couldn’t do that (see UCLA last year). In addition the Auburn running game looks fantastic, with 1045 yards just four games in. Even with Brown and Montario Hardesty, UT only has 789. That’s impressive.
UT has improved in finding a way to move the ball. Even with lame screens and swings, the balls can move the chains. The offensive line has been wonderful in protecting Crompton, looking more like they did two years ago, when they only allowed four sacks all season. And the running game speaks for itself. Half of UT’s touchdowns are on the ground.
5. Who are two generally unknown UT players that Auburn should look out for?
Look out for Janzen Jackson. He won the DB position as a true freshman and has been lights-out for UT. He had a monster hit that prevented a Brandon James touchdown in the Florida game, which I think was much better than Berry’s hit on Moreno last year (a UT Youtube favorite). I don’t think he has a pick yet, but he will be all over the field. And if Berry leaves for the NFL, is a more than qualified candidate, especially since Eric himself said (he reminds me of me). That’s scary.
Also beware of Chris Walker who had the rare defensive highlight of a pick six in the Ohio game. He’s a junior defensive end who I think leads the D-line in tackles (he also had one of the sacks on Tebow). He left the game Saturday, but watch out for him coming on the edge and making a pass rush.
6. What is your prediction for the game?
24-21 UT. UT will have at least one touchdown off a turnover and the Tigers can move the ball up and down the field, but the defense will come through in the Red Zone. Crompton’s turnover troubles will continue and the Tigers will make use of Nick Reveiz’s absence at the MLB position by running the ball up the middle. Expect eight in the box after awhile for Auburn’s defense, which will have some effectiveness. Special teams are the Vols’ biggest weakness aside from turnovers and Auburn will look to exploit it, as well as good field position thanks to some three-and-outs.
7. What do you think Auburn and Tennessee’s final records will be?
I think Auburn will be 9-3 because of their schedule, with the losses being to UT, LSU and Bama (sorry, but they’re good). UT will be their first test and I don’t think Miles will let another MSU fiasco happen again. Auburn will look much better than last year and the running game will be a big part. I expect they will play in a good bowl.
UT will be 8-4, which was my preseason prediction. I originally thought their losses would be Florida, Auburn, Bama and Ole Miss. Now with Florida confirmed and UCLA unexpected, I think they’ll still lose to the Tide and now to UGA. Why? Turnovers. Unless Crompton stops acting like Crompton and the receivers learn to catch a ball, expect them to do way better than last year, but no SEC championship, no victory vs. Georgia, Florida and Alabama, no playing Rocky Top all night long outside of Neyland (and Oxford: I should have known the Rebels were overrated. And Lexington. Twenty-four years in a row).
8. What do you think about the Tennessee administration banning Tiger Walk for Auburn outside Neyland Stadium? Pretty Bush League don’t you think?
UT’s admin is bogus for banning the walk. Why don’t they ban the Vol walk for the same reason? I don’t get it.
9. Do you realize that Auburn can give Tennessee FIVE when they win this weekend?
Davey Crockett uses War Eagles instead of clay pigeons for target practice and considering how slow Auburn is, they won’t be too difficult to hit.
Do you realize what you’ve just gotten yourselves into, Auburn? UT, also known as pain university, and the Vols are looking to give you a few lessons. You’ll leave Neyland Stadium more hurt than Tim Tebow after a Kentucky sack. You’ll cry so hard you’ll make Meg Ryan look like an emotionless robot. You’ll have more calamity upon you than Job. You’ll have more injuries than an ICU. It’s football time in Tennessee, and that means one thing: your white jerseys are turning green, though Todd’s will be clean, on the front at least.