Monthly Archives: October 2013

How Tennessee produced its incredible ‘Bulletproof’ video

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Maybe you’ve seen Tennessee’s new “Bulletproof” video? The five-minute cinematic montage was released on Wednesday and has drawn raves on social media for its incredible production values.

This clearly wasn’t a video that you or I could take with an iPhone. So I asked UT video director Barry Rice how it was done. Here’s his answer.

* Special cameras: Rice equipped his videographers with Arri Alexa HD cameras used in high-end TV and film production (and probably costing oodles of money).

* A special assignment: The video team’s goal? “Capture the magic of the event like it was a movie.”

* A strong team: Rice credited Trevor Greene, Erik Peterson and Steve Anderson and others with doing an exceptional job on the film work. “Steve ran all the footage through a color-correct process and I had an audio mix and sound FX session done as well,” Rice said.

* A great voice-over: Rice chose former Vol football player and current motivational speaker Inky Johnson to do narration. Originally, there was a script for Johnson to read.

“After the session, I said, ‘Let’s just chat while we keep recording,'” Rice said. “Most of what we used was from that — just Inky speaking from the heart.”

Tennessee football practice report (video)


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Check out the video above for a brief look at our brief viewing period on Wednesday.

Quarterback Justin Worley was at practice, sporting a cast on his hand and a sling on his arm.

Butch Jones offered a curious comment on the mic, telling players to turn on the TV tonight at 8 p.m. for “inspiration.”

Was he referring to the World Series?

WWE Main Event?

An all-new episode of Survivor?

UPDATE: We’ve found a possible answer. Cincinnati plays Memphis tonight. I’m still going to watch the World Series.

We’ll talk to assistants after practice this evening. Check here and my Twitter for any updates.

And don’t make fun of the video too much. It’s a work in progress.

Why did Mizzou get better ratings in Knoxville than St. Louis? World Series, or UT fans’ advance scouting

Michael Palardy kicks off in practice on Tuesday. (Photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Here’s something mildly interesting: Saturday night’s South Carolina-Missouri game got better television ratings in Knoxville than it did in St. Louis.

One HUGE caveat: There was a little bit of competition for TV viewers that night as the St. Louis Cardinals played the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.

In any case, here are the top metered markets for the game, according to ESPN: Greenville, S.C. (13.3), Kansas City (11.0), Birmingham (10.8), Knoxville (8.7), Jacksonville (6.5), Charlotte (6.4), St. Louis (5.3), Nashville (5.2), Atlanta (4.9) and New Orleans (4.0).

Yeah, the South really likes college football.

But college football is also a strong regional play, too. The top markets for  the Penn State-Ohio State blowout on ABC were: Columbus (38.0), Dayton (19.5), Cleveland (16.9), Cincinnati (6.5), Pittsburgh (4.5), Ft. Myers (3.5), Philadelphia (3.2), Orlando (3.2), West Palm Beach (3.2), Detroit (3.1) and Jacksonville (3.0).

I have no idea about the Florida markets in there. Maybe Big 10 transplants? Big Urban Meyer fans?

OK, just because I find this stuff fascinating, one more. The UCLA-Oregon broadcast: Portland (18.3), Birmingham (7.9), Seattle (6.7), Los Angeles (5.6), Louisville (5.2), Las Vegas (4.4), Greenville (4.4), Knoxville (4.0), Jacksonville (3.7) and Norfolk (3.7).

You can pretty much count on Birmingham being in the top 10 in nearly every college broadcast.

With addition of Midwestern ‘brick,’ Vols 2014 class continues to move north

The geographic midpoint of Tennessee's 2014 recruiting class as of Oct. 28, 2014.

The geographic midpoint of Tennessee’s 2014 recruiting class as of Oct. 28, 2013.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When defensive end prospect Dewayne Hendrix verbally committed to sign with Tennessee in the 2014 class, Vols coach Butch Jones tweeted that he had added another “Mid-West brick.”

The addition of Hendrix, an O’Fallon, Ill., native, gives the Vols five Midwestern “bricks” in the 2014 class, pushing the geographic midpoint of the class about 100 miles north of the 2013 class that Jones patched together in the final weeks of the recruiting class.

The 28 current members of the 2014 class are centered on Kingston, Tenn., just a few miles west of Farragut. The 2013 class was centered on the Chattahoochee National Forest in north Georgia, near Ellijay.

Why did the class move north? Part of the impact is the Midwestern additions. But the Vols also have less of a south Florida influence than they did in Derek Dooley’s years.

Here are Tennessee’s current 28 commitments:

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Vols’ odds to make a bowl game drop to about 70 percent after new projections

Butch Jones greets Nick Saban before Saturday’s game (AP photo by Dave Martin).

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Four games in November will decide Tennessee’s season.

A 2-2 record will send the Vols to their first bowl game since 2010, Derek Dooley’s first season. The Vols started that year 2-6, but won their last four games to reach bowl eligibility.

In 2013, the schedule is harder for first-year coach Butch Jones, but Tennessee must only win two of the final four games.

How likely are they to do so? We updated our Monte Carlo simulation after the Vols’ loss to No. 1 Alabama and tweaked some of the inputs to make them more consistent.

Here are the odds of Tennessee winning each of its last four games:

Nov. 2: @ Missouri: 23 percent

Nov. 9: vs. Auburn: 41 percent

Nov. 23: vs. Vanderbilt: 62 percent

Nov. 30: at Kentucky: 75 percent.

The odds listed above are educated guesses, but I tried to use a consistent method. I calculated an expected margin of victory based on Sagarin predictor ratings, which are sometimes similar to the point spreads set by Vegas. Then I converted the spread to a rough money line and converted the money line to an implied percentage.

Then I entered all the numbers in my make-shift simulator and ran the rest of the season about 1,000 times.

Here’s what it spat out:

4-0 finish, 8-4, 5-3 overall: 4.46 percent

3-1 finish, 7-5, 4-4 overall: 25.73 percent

2-2 finish, 6-6, 3-5 overall: 41.13 percent

1-3 finish, 5-7, 2-6 overall: 24.92 percent

0-4 finish, 4-8, 1-7 overall: 3.76 percent

The bold numbers give Tennessee bowl eligibility.

I ran a few smaller simulations just for the heck of it.

Missouri has a higher-than-I-expected 17 percent chance of winning out this season and a 45 percent chance of finishing 10-2, 6-2.

Will No. 1 Alabama finish the regular season with an undefeated record? My quick simulation put the odds at about 70 percent.

Suspended Tennessee player Mo Couch says he’s still waiting on word from NCAA (tweets)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — In a series of Twitter posts made during Tennessee’s loss at No. 1 Alabama, suspended defensive tackle Mo Couch expressed his eagerness to return to the field, but said he had not received clearance from the NCAA.

In response to a question from a fan, Couch said the NCAA was still playing the “quiet game.”

Couch was ruled ineligible on Sept. 12 after Yahoo Sports reported that he was among several current and former players who received cash payments from someone acting as a liaison to NFL agents.

Couch hinted at his motivation for taking money when he tweeted that he was a “father first.”

Couch and his wife have one child. His wife is pregnant with their second.

A roundup of Tennessee-Alabama week in videos

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Vols are headed to Alabama for their showdown with the No. 1 Crimson Tide.

The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised by CBS. Most lines have Tennessee as a 28.5-point underdog.

The video above is our early-week preview.  The video below includes practice highlights from Tuesday’s session in which we first learned about “the red team.”

The final video is new team member Ben Frederickson‘s debut on our weekly Double Coverage segment.

If you have any questions or topics you want us to cover on future segments, just let me know by email or Twitter.

Alabama beat writer Q&A: The view from Tuscaloosa

A.J. McCarron against Texas A&M. (AP Photo. David J. Phillip)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — No. 1 Alabama seems to have few flaws, at least few that have been exposed by anyone other than Johnny Manziel.

We asked Andrew Gribble, Alabama beat writer for AL.com and its associated newspapers, just how good the Tide is.

Gribble previously covered Tennessee for the News Sentinel. Since he started on the Alabama beat, the Tide is 20-1.

1. Does the injury to Vinnie Sunseri leave the Tide’s secondary vulnerable in any way, or is it just on to the next one?

The biggest loss that comes from Sunseri’s injury is the leadership void it creates on the back end of Alabama’s defense. Sunseri had really emerged as the commander of Alabama’s secondary and was in charge of putting players in their proper positions. This aspect of his game was incredibly valuable during a stretch in which CB Deion Belue dealt (and continues to deal) with a nagging injury, S HaHa Clinton-Dix was suspended and a rotating crew of underclassmen was filling the other CB spot.

Sophomore Landon Collins will replace Sunseri in most formations. Collins is incredibly talented and has been playing his butt off wherever Alabama has asked. He’s an absolute monster on special teams. So from that standpoint, Alabama has other positions with a greater drop-off in talent than the one they’re testing at strong safety. That said, a team never gets better when a player like Sunseri goes down.

2. There’s been a lot of talk about the relevance of this rivalry. There have been streaks in the series before, but the margin of Alabama’s recent wins have been very large. How do fans, players and coaches view this series?

I think this rivalry had understandably grown a bit stale with Alabama fans and players over the past couple of years, but Tennessee’s big win against South Carolina seems to have rekindled some of the back-and-forth that makes it one of the best in the SEC. Alabama’s administrators are just as serious as Dave Hart when it pertains to making sure this rivalry game remains in place on future SEC schedules.

With the way Alabama’s 2013 schedule has played out, I think Crimson Tide fans and players have been looking for something to get excited about other than the LSU game, and this seems like the perfect time heading into a bye week.

3. Texas A&M is the only Alabama opponent that has kept the game close. Is there anything that a team without Johnny Manziel on its roster can learn from that game?

That’s tough because Manziel really appears to be this defense’s only version of kryptonite. Perhaps because of what Manziel has done to Alabama over the past two years, there’s a misguided perception that it struggles to stop mobile quarterbacks. That’s not true at all. This defense struggles to stop quarterbacks who can run as well as a running back, scramble for seven or eight seconds and then find a super talented receiver open down the field with accurate passes.

If anything, I suppose this year’s Texas A&M game highlighted Alabama’s need for a cornerback other than Belue to step up and hold his own against man coverage. Belue isn’t at 100 percent and likely won’t be during the rest of the season because of a toe injury. Alabama has started three different players at the opposite cornerback spot and drawn mixed results. No team since Texas A&M has been able to take advantage of it.

4. How does this team compare to past Alabama national championship teams?

When Alabama appeared to be struggling early in the season, many folks started making comparisons to 2010, when Alabama had a loaded roster but ultimately never lived up to expectations and lost three times. Those comparisons have stopped because of what the Crimson Tide has done over the past three weeks. While the 2010 team never seemed to improve, this Alabama team — other than its letdown stinker against Colorado State — has gotten better with each game.

The offense is a bit behind last year’s pace because of the season opener against Virginia Tech and the defense is just off the pace set by the 2011 team because of Texas A&M. This season’s special teams is probably the best Nick Saban has ever had at Alabama. It probably wasn’t until last week when Alabama was able to get all three facets clicking at the same time. When it does, games like Saturday’s 52-0 rout of Arkansas happen.

5. What is the biggest hurdle in Alabama’s path to another title?

From an on-field perspective, LSU and Auburn remain the two toughest challenges. On paper, Alabama has the clear advantage over LSU, but only one game between the teams has been separated by fewer than 10 points since Saban was hired. Auburn has been playing incredibly well, but the Tigers’ strength (running the ball) plays into one of Alabama’s top strengths (stopping the run.) This team has the depth to survive a few more injuries, but there are key spots such as quarterback, left tackle, cornerback and now safety where Alabama’s title run would really be jeopardized if something happened to the starters at those positions.

This year’s Crimson Tide has seemingly dealt with more off-the-field issues than any of Saban’s previous teams. The “clutter” hasn’t seemed to affect the players much, as Alabama scored its biggest win of the season just days after the Yahoo! D.J. Fluker story dropped. The only one that truly affected the on-field product, though, was Clinton-Dix’s suspension. Alabama outscored the competition 93-10 during his absence, so it clearly came at an ideal time on the schedule.