Dennis Norwood: Through The Lens - Reflections After The Florida Loss

Monday, September 18, 2017 - by Dennis Norwood
Dennis Norwood
Dennis Norwood

As others have said on Social Media, "Let me just leave this here." Code for "I'm getting ready to say something many of you aren't going to agree with.

First off, let me get one thing off my chest. I'm tired of being called a "Negavol" and less than a true Tennessee fan just because I have an "opinion!" An opinion that many agree with and many don't. I will not call those with dissenting views names or question their loyalty to the Orange & White. And, that's exactly what this column is, my opinion.

Some have even posted, "If you've never played the game you should shut up and be quiet." Well, I've played the game and I've been a sports writer and now sports photographer for over 43 years. I think that qualifies me to have a better than average grasp of the game, though there are many much sharper tacks in the drawer than me.

I have been a supporter of Butch Jones since he's been at UT. Yes, he is a great recruiter and yes, Tennessee hasn't seen a lot of players locked up. And that's a very good, welcome thing. But, if you think that's all it takes to coach at a D1 school, just ask Mark Richt how that panned out. And, in my honest opinion, Coach Richt is a far superior coach, man and character builder than CBJ will ever be. (Again, just my opinion) Fan bases want coaches that win championships. Plain and simple. And nowhere more than in the SEC and on Rocky Top.

After the job the coaching staff did in yesterday's Florida game, some things can no longer be overlooked. Platitudes and all aside, Tennessee has no true signature - from one game to the next, one never knows what team will take the field. That is NOT on the players. That's a head coaches' job. The Vols have as good, if not better, talent of any school out there. The defense mostly looks unprepared and it appears no one has taught these young men the fine art of tackling. Defensive formations oft-times do not match up with what the offense is doing and the secondary seems many times out of position. Take for instance, the Hail Mary that the Gators scored on to win the game.

On offense there were play calls that mostly made no sense at all. Inches from the goal line and Tennessee throws out of the shotgun? With a runner like John Kelly ready, willing and able to carry the ball into the end zone? I could almost already hear in my mind, John Ward calling out "Give him six! Touchdown Tennessee, touchdown John Kelly."

When it was obvious that UT's starting QB was struggling, it was time, as a 7-year old friend of mine said, "to give him a time out."

Yes, there is a new Offensive Coordinator and many say, "let him grow into the position." At this level there is no time to "grow " into an OC position"

Manyfans have laid blame on certain players for drops, missed field goals and other "faux pas." I just can't do that. C'mon, a true freshman kicker in his first-ever appearance misses two of three attempts from those distances? Give him a break! Most of us couldn't hit a FG from 10-yards out given 10 attempts with no one rushing. And speaking of the kicking game, where is Laszlo Toser, the preferred walk-on from Ooltewah? Rumor has it he was outkicking our starting kicker regularly by more than just a few yards in practice the last two seasons. At last look, he was not listed on this year's roster.

Yes, I lay the failure to win at Florida at the feet of the collective coaching staff but, mostly at the feet of Coach Jones. Ultimately it's his responsibility for everything that happens with Vol football.

You might ask, "Well, who would we get to take his place? No top tier coach will come to Rocky Top." Don't sell Tennessee's program short. Give Jones credit for bringing the program back to where it is today. This is not the same program it was when Jones was hired. As mentioned previously, credit where credit is due, he has done a good job at rebuilding a once faltering program. Today would most likely be a very different story should the job open up. It might just be time to take Jones' brick out of the wall and move on.

With that said, I am glad that decision belongs to new AD John Currie.


(Dennis Norwood is a photographer, writer and sometimes columnist for The His opinions are entirely his own. He can be emailed at; follow him on Twitter at @DennisENorwood)


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