— Matt Elam had a so-so first outing as the starter at nose tackle, replacing Melvin Lewis. Fans probably wanted more from the former 5-star, but the BBN needs to show patience with his development. We spoke on the podcast about how we’d like to see him be more physical at the point of attack, but DLine coach Jimmy Brumbaugh was insistent that Elam played extremely well on Saturday. Matt was upset with the way he played, but the staff made sure to show him plenty of the good he did against the run on Saturday, along with the bad.
— Stoops praised C.J. Conrad on the SEC Teleconference. C.J. Conrad just keeps getting better every time we see him on the field. Conrad was one of the few bright spots we saw on Saturday, finishing with a career-high 6 catches for 56 yards. He never goes to the ground easy, and is becoming more comfortable in the middle of the field. Stoops doesn’t see his progress slowing down, “We really think we have a special player in C.J. He’s getting better and better with every rep.”
— Boom needs to be better in the 2nd quarter. I get it, the guy gets gassed after pulling off some big runs, but conditioning cannot be an issue eight games into the season. At this point, giving him rest isn’t a good reason, it’s an excuse (and we all know what they say about excuses). This offense has struggled lately in the run game without him. If they want to keep defenses honest, he’s got to be able to get in more reps.
— Hurd and Dobbs will be a heavy load to handle. Tennessee and Kentucky actually matchup fairly well statistically. They are are ranked next to one another in almost every defensive category, yet the Vols are an 8.5 point favorite on the road. The reason why: the dynamic duo of Dobbs and Hurd. Hurd is a 240-pound wrecking ball at running back; difficult to tackle because of his size and hard to catch with exceptional speed. Dobbs is a great athlete that is transforming into a great quarterback because of his excellent decision-making. He may not kill you vertically, but isn’t going to make many mistakes. Kentucky must capitalize on all of them if they expect to slow down the Vols’ offense.
I don’t describe what Dobbs is doing well like the guy who’s been watching film on him all week, Mark Stoops:
“I think he has a great command of the offense and what they’re doing and a guy that’s very comfortable back there. He’s throwing the ball extremely accurate when he’s on rhythm and has time and they’re setting up some very good play action with him and he looks very comfortable with it.”
— Tennessee will be staying in Cincinnati because they couldn’t get a hotel during the Breeders’ Cup. Too bad it isn’t a noon game or they’d REALLY be thrown off.
— I hope there is a Breeders’ Cup Classic watch party somewhere in the tailgate lots. I get pretty geeked about horse racing, I can’t lie. I grew up 10 minutes from Churchill and my family takes this stuff pretty seriously. I’m a big fan of jumping up and down, screaming, and a little cursing during races and I don’t know if that will be acceptable in the press box. If you have any plans or suggestions, please send them my way.
— I appreciate D.J. Eliot’s blunt description of his defense from Saturday’s game.
“I think it was our worst game and that’s obvious. I’m not discouraged about our progress and I’m not discouraged about the future.”