Roy Exum: UT A 34-Point ‘Dog

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I can’t remember a time in my life when a University of Tennessee football team has been a five touchdown underdog and this comes at a time when my primary-care physician tells me, “Let’s face it … you are old.” That said, even when I look at myself naked in the bathroom mirror I ain’t as ugly as what I fear will happen in Tuscaloosa this coming Saturday.

I can remember the Tide players talking about “Tennessee Week” because “the Third Saturday in October is a holy day.” That’s because when the players would hear Bear Bryant softly whistling “Love Lifted Me” before practice several were going to bleed that day. Some believe Bryant’s dislike for Tennessee was because he could never beat The General (Robert Neyland) but Brother Oliver, whose task it was to draw up the game plan for UT every year under Bryant, saw through that. “No, it’s because Tennessee plays the same brand of football Alabama does – we’re more alike than any other two teams in the conference.”

That’s not true anymore. Barring a miracle, the Crimson Tide is overwhelmingly picked to light those victory cigars for the 12th year in a row. Alabama is averaging 302.6 yards rushing per game while Tennessee’s defense against the run is giving up 242.3 per game. Another way to put it is Alabama is seventh in the country running the ball and the Vols are 123rd in the nation stopping it.

Neither team is impressive passing – Alabama doesn’t need it and Tennessee doesn’t have much luck. The thing to remember about passing the ball is that one of three things can happen and two of them aren’t good. Alabama averages 42.7 points per game and Tennessee scores half of that. Alabama is fourth in the country in total defense (254.3 yards/game) while Tennessee is 52nd yielding 372 yards/game.

I’ve got a friend who claims to have made a bundle by betting on any team that is more than a 32-point underdog. The percentages are always favorable but here’s a better rule. Never, ever, bet on Tennessee vs. Alabama. This rivalry alone has broken hearts in both camps for years.

Last year the Tide was favored by a touchdown so what made the line jumps to 34? It’s what you don’t see – the difference between Alabama’s first team and its third team on either side of the ball is miniscule. All of the Tiders are blue-chip recruits and this enables the Alabama position coaches to shuttle players in and out quicker than a Las Vegas dealer with a four-deck stack.

Tennessee seems to be leg-weary in the fourth quarters I’ve watch but Alabama players are so rested by the final whistle any one of them could donate a pint of blood. The top-shelf players at Alabama rarely play more than what amounts to three quarters of a game. Tennessee sagged in the second half against Georgia and South Carolina, which brings us to turnovers – for the year Alabama is plus-11 in take-aways while UT is minus-four in give-aways.

On third-down conversions, Tennessee is good 34.5 percentage of the time on offense and allows opponents 43 percent. Alabama converts 41.9 percent on offense and allows opponents 27.1 percent. In the red zone Alabama will score two of every three visits. Tennessee hits one of every two.

In honesty, this week’s game will not be Butch Jones’ last and, in fairness, it shouldn’t be. Nobody else is whipping Alabama but next week’s game at Kentucky could turn into a Waterloo moment, especially if Tennessee has injuries at key positions. Remember, the Wildcats have lost only once this season going into Mississippi State this Saturday.

More honesty? I think with UT 3-3 at the end of the first half of the schedule, that’s about what you are going to see the rest of the way. I’m not a doom’s day guy but a 3-3 second half is realistically what I’m thinking with an established quarterback right now. When you sag in the second half this deep in the season it’s tough to get stronger in practice.

I’d like to see Butch Jones have another year because you never fire a coach without a better one hiding behind the door. The new athletic director ain’t gonna’ have a say – UT has never worked that way – but I fret the fan base is pretty antsy and with recruits de-committing, people smarter than me may have no choice.

When being a 34-point underdog is worse than seeing me naked, I can’t think of much worse.

royexum@aol.com



Mental Health Patients Are Crying Out For Help

First and foremost, my heart and prayers go out to all the victims and family in the horrific and brutal Florida school shooting. Hearts and minds of all U.S. citizens will always have a special place for these innocent people who were ruthlessly gunned down. The first conclusion that people want to jump to is gun control and point fingers at our government and law makers who ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It wasn’t lost on me that during Valentine Week, when we most remember those we love, this first story was included in my weekly email. As has become my habit, every Saturday I try to come up with a new edition of The Saturday Funnies because I get some delightful ones that are shared by my friends during the week. We must never waste a giggle. So in keeping with my ... (click for more)

Cachet Peterson, 21, Killed, Tiana Linares, 24, Injured, In Drive-by Shooting Early Sunday Morning On Chestnut Street

Cachet Peterson, 21, was killed and Tiana Linares, 24, was injured in a drive-by shooting on Chestnut Street early Sunday morning. The Chattanooga Police Department responded to a shooting call at 1:27 a.m. in the 1800 block of Chestnut Street .  Upon arrival, officers located the two female victims in a vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds. HCEMS responded to the ... (click for more)

Woman Killed At Foot Of Lookout Mountain After Truck Loses Brakes

A woman was killed at the foot of Lookout Mountain on Saturday morning after her car was struck by a truck that had lost its brakes coming down the mountain. The victim was identified as Mallory Baldschun. A child in her Toyota Tacoma had minor injuries, police said. The driver of the International Prostar truck, James Wilson, also had minor injuries. Two other vehicles ... (click for more)

Cleveland Wins AAA State Mat Title

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Chattanooga-area wrestling teams didn’t dominate the TSSAA traditional state tournament this weekend like they have in the past, but they were better than average and still had a lot to celebrate. All three teams that won titles in the State Duals here at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Park came back to win again this time, including Cleveland ... (click for more)

District 5-3A: Blue Raiders, Mustangs Advance To Boys' Final

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – For the most part, seedings for postseason high school basketball tournaments hold up well. There are upsets, at times. Some mild. Some more stunning. On “Semifinal Saturday” in District 5-3A at Walker Valley High School, three favorites won, including both higher seeded girls’ teams. Second-ranked Bradley Central, unbeaten at 27-0 and the No. ... (click for more)