I can’t figure out where in the world to start. It’s just been a great day. We were Jacob was up and at it as early as 6:30 to make a Chick-Fil-A nugget tray pick-up. There are three main components of a great gameday: food, friends, and football, and we were blessed with a lot of all three. Here’s how we felt about the game.
Jonathan Crompton. The most important factor of the game. He’s making some nice throws, folks, on top of the basic throws that he’s making with ease. Before you start thinking I’m too excited, let me say that I’m readily aware of the competition we were up against today. Regardless, when you’re hitting your receivers in the chest, you’re doing your job. Yes, the two picks were unfortunate, but only the first one was a bad throw. I’ll say this: based on his scrimmage performances, I had some pretty high expectations for Crompton in this game, and he exceeded them. He threw more touchdowns today than all of last season. That’s a stat that can’t be ignored.
I also think you saw the firepower of our stable of running backs that we’ve been talking about. Call him Healthesty or Startesty, because Montario Hardesty is as solid a back as you’ll find in the SEC this season. I say that with confidence. Gotta love Bryce Brown, too. Our tailback of the future, I think you just got a taste of what he can do. Even though it was just 2 yards, his touchdown (that will always be remembered as the first of the LK Era, and it should be noted that Jacob predicted exactly that this morning) was awesome. I also loved how he stuck that guy on Crompton’s first pick. He’s just a football player. Poole and Oku got in and did their thing as well. It’ll be interesting to see how our backs handle the schedule as it toughens and the running lanes shrink a little bit. The main reason our backfield was so explosive today was that our offensive line dominated WKU in every way. They were opening truck sized holes.
Crompton spread the wealth around to the receivers, and it seemed like everybody showed up, none more than freshman Marsalis Teague. Who would have thought that Teague would start and be the leading receiver of the first game? Jacob has likened him to Cedrick Wilson, and I agree. Very quick, very good hands, should be a great player. Quentin Hancock had a nice day, and I like him in the starting lineup as well. He and Brandon Warren both caught touchdowns. Both have the size and the hands to be our big, every-down receiver. One of those two needs to be “the” guy. Nu’Keese kind of took a back seat today to some of the other freshmen, but he did return a few punts, and I think you could see how explosive he is. It also looks like Crompton has a nice chemistry with Luke Stocker. Also keep in mind, we have two really good receivers that didn’t even play today. We’ve got a lot of athletes at this position, folks. A lot.
That. Was. Awesome. Man, what a great game today. I concur with everything Mac said about the offense. Crompton looked worlds better than at any point last year, Teague looks like a little Cedric Wilson out there, and we are as deep at tailback as any Tennessee team I’ve seen since ’98. And what can take a back seat to an offense that scored 63 points is our defense that gave up just seven. I’ll make the same disclaimer Mac did above, yes I am aware that Western Kentucky is terrible. Like, really terrible. But regardless, here’s what I took away from today defensively.
Defensive Linemen: Chris Walker looked like the player that Ed Orgeron and Lane Kiffin called “unblockable” in the spring. He routinely worked over the tackle opposite him, and if he wasn’t getting there, then Gerald Williams was. He also looked like the edge rusher that Tennessee has lacked in the past. Yes, their offensive tackles were painfully slow-footed, but our ends looked to have a burst that they didn’t have last year. Ben Martin also made a nice sack on a speed rush. Wes Brown also crushed some people out there today, the guy never takes a play off. Good day overall for our ends. I didn’t notice the tackles as much, but that’s not to say they didn’t own the inside. Whenever you see linebackers flying around making plays like they did today, you know the defensive tackles are doing a good job keeping the offensive lineman off of them. Also, if any of you saw the sun disappear during random intervals today, that was Montori Hughes walking in front of you. The guy is an absolute house, and I think he is going to make Rico McCoy a lot of money in the draft this year by keeping blockers off of him all season. You can’t overstate the impact of a big tackle like Hughes, and we haven’t had one since before Justin Harrell got hurt as a senior.
Oh…so there is Brent Vinson: So you’re the guy who was called a better athlete than Eric Berry coming out of high school and even at times during practice. I’ve had more than a couple players tell me that Vinson is the better natural athlete as well. It is for that reason I really cheer for the guy. He played a lot of snaps today and gives us even more depth in an already deep secondary. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a good Brent Vinson this year. Janzen Jackson, Darren Myles Jr., Mike Edwards, Art Evans, Marsalous Johnson give us a deep secondary, but not an experienced one. Vinson has played in a lot of football games and could be a stabalizing force in a young secondary. I love playing the young guys, but I love it even more when you can put them in there with good, experienced players like Berry and Vinson.
Rico McCoy/Nick Reveiz: I will admit to being a pretty harsh critic of both at times. Last year I saw a Rico McCoy who played undisciplined football. He was constanty over-running plays, and it drove me up the freaking wall. Today he looked more collected and sure of himself than I’ve seen him. In fact, he looked like a totally different player. Mac and I have talked about how he could fill the same role in Kiffin’s system that Derrick Brooks did for so many in Tampa. They have similar size, both very fast, both playing weakside linebacker. Hopefully McCoy will continue to thrive in this system and turn himself into a first-day draft choice. Reveiz was seemingly everywhere; crushing people. Not the fastest, or biggest, this is the kind of game he really should thrive in. He’s a good Robert Peace/Ryan Karl type according to Mac. He reminds me more of Jason Mitchell. I liked what I saw out of him, but my expectations are still tempered with him at the mike linebacker. If he’s doing this against some of the bigger, more athletic SEC teams, then great. But until then I’m going to hold off on comparing him to Zach Thomas as Ed Orgeron has, but he looked like him today.
Oh, and I still love Eric Berry. He makes the first tackle of the year, in on the first tackle from scrimmage, and then he was a finger or two away from housing one right in front of us early in the first quarter. He didn’t have any “OH MY GOD HE IS A FREAK OF NATURE, IT LOOKS LIKE HE’S ON NCAA 10 OUT THERE” plays, but that’s because our defense flew around today, not because Berry wasn’t on his game. Don’t worry folks, he’ll wow us soon enough.
More on the game throughout the week..