October 20, 2016
The DeBord Affect
This weekend left me scratching my head. Is Mike DeBord the right fit for this Tennessee offense or is this offense limited by DeBord’s play calling?
Mike DeBord has had a long career as offensive line coach and Coordinator, which includes two stints at Michigan, one where they won the national championship and when they got beat by Appalachian State. At least on his Michigan teams the offense never seem to really be too potent. They scored an average of 21 to 24 points per game but were led to victory mainly do the defensive stands keeping the opponents to fewer than 17 points on average. In the 1997 Michigan National Championship teams, the majority of the games had slow starts offensively by Michigan but were able to score points given the talent level. The 1998 and 1999 teams had a different personality, being able to score often and quickly. His return to the program in 2006 & 2007 saw a much different team, one that struggled offensively to gain significant yardage and scores.
Mike DeBord’s tenure as Head Football Coach at Central Michigan was a failure as the team had a 12-34 record under DeBord. His time at Central Michigan was wedged between his 2 jobs at Michigan where he was ultimately let go by new coach Rich Rodrigues and left the college ranks for the Seattle Seahawks where he was a tight end’s coach.
So does Tennessee just not have the caliber of talent we really need for a prolific offense? Or has the past decade passed DeBord by in his ability to run an offense?
My personal opinion is that, despite Butch Jones’ loyalty to DeBord, the game has passed him by. You can not convince me that the talent on the field with this Tennessee team is simply incapable of putting together good drives, good yardage, and scores on our opponents. Games that should of been easy wins by Tennessee turned into struggles and overtime victories plagued by an offensive scheme that would work best for rec-league football teams, certainly not in the SEC. Tennessee is loaded with talent that can effectively make our offense far more potent give the right strategy. Problems with our offensive line complicates things but a good offensive coordinator should be able to develop successful plans to overcome issues on the line. DeBord simply hasn’t been able to do that. With games coming down to the line all season and clear adjustments by Butch Jones where Vol fans were given a taste of a real Tennessee offense, Mike DeBord is no longer the man for the job in Tennessee.
We had way more production offensively in the past two years, even in losses, than this year combined. Although we are 5-2 and if able to fight through injuries could finish the season 10-2 and a possible SEC East leader, we will likely still have painful games the entire season. Simply because DeBord should not be our Offensive Coordinator.
Get rid of him!
October 30, 2016
We got Cocky with it!
The night the lights went out in Columbia on Butch Jones and the Tennessee Volunteers was a rough pill to swallow. They type of pill that gets lodged in your throat, tastes horrible, and requires a full beverage to get down. Even then the taste lingers just like this season is lingering with the Vol fan base. The team picked as the favorite to win the SEC East has now found itself simply looking for a good bowl bid.
My opinion, you can sum it all up in one word….. HYPE! and we all bought in!
Now my question is this. Was the hype Tennessee received at the beginning of the year valid or not?
Hindsight is one thing but put yourself back at the beginning of the season.
Butch Jones had taken over a 5-7 team and, in a 3 year time span, had the team 9-4 last year with 2 bowl appearances in 2014 and 2015 both of which were dominate games by Tennessee. So what would of been a reasonable prediction for 2016? All sports outlets said “this was Tennessee’s year”, winning the SEC East and some even said going further. Really?
If you have a program that you are building “brick by brick”, is 4 bricks enough? Or does it take more to build a solid program foundation that competes at a high level in the toughest conference in college football? Being ranked pre-season #9 and expected to go 10-2 and to the SEC Championship seemed like a stretch to me. There’s nothing that could convince me is wasn’t possible but unlikely given the SEC and our schedule. Most fans had embraced the 10-2 scenario and tagged Texas A&M and Alabama as the two losses.
But South Carolina at 3-4 taking a Tennessee team off a bye week and making them look like a team who hadn’t played in a year exposed a whole lot of issues in Butch Jones’ masonry skills. This was a team that should of never taken the field, a team that was not prepared to play football, a team that look defeated 5 minutes into the game. Granted this shouldn’t of been a surprise based on how Tennessee has played all year. Every game was a struggle, every game required a last minute resurgence, and every game put more and more stress on the team and fans. A team this unprepared for a season falls squarely on the shoulders of Butch Jones and his entire staff. While execution is also a large problem, even that has to be owned by the coaching staff whose job is to have this team ready.
Should Butch Jones be on the “hot seat”?
I don’t think so but I’m sure it’s getting a little warm down there. Making a comparison to another potential hire in Charlie Strong, taking on another big program in Texas, who now sits at 4-4 and 2-3 in the Big 12 and was probably going to be shown the door at the end of the season but may have prolonged his longhorn execution with this weekend’s win over #8 Baylor. Butch Jones has done a better job in a much tougher conference with signature wins over Virginia Tech in the largest college football venue ever, and wins against Florida and Georgia. A 9-3 finish with a bowl game is still an improvement, while not meeting fan expectations due to media hype, Butch has the program going in the right direction whether we agree with the timeline to be contenders or not. Obviously a 9-3 finish is not what Vol fans expected and even that is not a guarantee based on how this team is playing with the rest of the schedule, fans should temper their anger just a bit and let the season play out.
As I eluded to at the first part of this article is something that really is at the heart of the problem and the emotional roller coaster ride Tennessee fans, the team, and the coaches have been fighting against. THE HYPE!
The hype that the media puts on any team sets both the team and its fanbase up for disappointment. While I understand sports media outlets HAVE to talk about something doesn’t mean that our team, our players, and us as fans should listen when it’s about the Vols. Our inability to tune this out is what leads to bad decisions that can and has devastated a program as we especially witnessed over the past 10 years. A lot of things need to be fixed and it is Butch’s job to fix them. If the Vols finish 10-3 or even 10-4, we still have’t digressed. We just hadn’t improved any. If Butch fails to make off season changes to better the program, then we’ll know it is time to move on but it is not fair, in my opinion, to pull the trigger on a coach until you know without a shadow of doubt that he can’t bring the program back to prominence, then its time to make the hard decision to let me go and the even harder decision of who to hire and if that will again set back our program.
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