Q&A: The View From Rocky Top

The Tennessee game is a big one, so we here at Razorback Expats have felt the pressure to take our blogging 'to the next level', as they say, this week. In order to do that, we reached out to the excellent UT blog Rocky Top Talk to get his perspective on the matchup. We hope his answers will both educate and entertain you, but beware...if you follow his links there's a little math involved.

We also answered some of their questions, so head on over to RTT to read our side of the story.

1. As you might have heard, there's been a bit of drama around the coaching situation here at Arkansas, so we're naturally a little obsessed with the overall concept of coaches on the hot seat. Speaking of that, how are things looking for Phillip Fulmer? Will he be back next year? And if not, who are the likely candidates to replace him?

Well, nobody's commissioned a plane to fly around the stadium dragging a banner that calls for his head, so there's that. Fulmer seems to be pretty well insulated from fan anarchy, which has been quite nasty at times this season. He's got a lot of friends in high places with fat wallets and the benefit of a level-headed athletic director that has said repeatedly that he wants to see how the season plays out before he makes any decisions regarding the coaching staff.

My guess is that Fulmer will be back next year, provided we lose one or none of our remaining games. If we lose two, it'll be a toss up, and if we lose all three, it'll be tossing out time. Who would be the candidates if it comes to that? Who knows? I've heard everything from John Gruden (but see, Charlie Weis, Bill Callahan, et al.), to Jim Leavitt, to Greg Schiano, to Bucky the Tap-Dancing Mule. I hear Houston Nutt might be available, too.

2. What are the keys to a UT victory on Saturday?
Hmm. See here, where I put the teams' relative stats side and side and concluded:

On offense, we might be able to run, but we won't be able to pass. On defense, we can stop the pass, but we won't be able to stop the run. Ergo, running the ball and stopping the run, usually keys to big games, are even more likely to decide the outcome of this one.

So what do we do? On defense, rush four and have all three linebackers and both safeties focus on limiting McFadden's and Jones' rushing yards. Tell the corners to play their respective receivers man-to-man from snap to whistle and to never, ever, ever even glance in the direction of McFadden because if they do, they'll get suckered into the Wild Hog play action. On offense, run the ball. Chew the clock. Score, score, and score some more. Keep McFadden off the field and out of a rhythm.

All easier said than done, of course, but that's what I think we'll need to do if we're going to win.

3. Which players will Razorback fans be cursing by the end of the game?
Hopefully, their own. If anybody in red will be cursing somebody in orange, though, it will likely be because we were able to keep the ball and dominate the time of possession. Runnings backs Arian Foster, Montario Hardesty, and freshman Lennon Creer are our only hope of doing that. Whether they will, well, that remains to be seen. Ask me again on Sunday.

4. How will LaMarcus Coker's dismissal from the team affect the Vols? And who's the most likely candidate to step up and fill his shoes?
We lose our most dynamic playmaker at the running back position, and we lose a little depth, but really it's not a debilitating loss. Arian Foster is not as dynamic, but he's very good, provided he can hold onto the ball at crucial times. Montario Hardesty is without a doubt our No. 2 guy now, and he's quite good as well. Freshman Lennon Creer had a career day against Louisiana-Lafayette for homecoming, so he's in the mix, too. He appears to have Coker's speed, Foster's strength, and better vision than either of them.

5. Coker's drug-related exit from the team was followed almost immediately by the already-legendary Josh McNeil Incident. Does this mean that Tennessee would be the best team to party with in the SEC? If not, who would?
I'm probably not the one to ask, as I'm on record as spending my Friday evenings sitting in the basement eating frozen pizza and watching Christy DVDs with my wife and daughters, a definition of "party" that almost certainly disqualifies me as an expert on the subject.

6. Gazing into your crystal ball for a moment, how many rushing yards will Darren McFadden get on Saturday? How about Felix Jones?
You'll laugh and raise a skeptical eyebrow (and rightfully so), but I've already concluded that McFadden and Jones will get 318 yards on the ground against us.

7. Who are UT's three most hated rivals? We're sure Arkansas doesn't make that list, but how do Tennessee fans feel about the Razorbacks?
Florida, Alabama, and Steve Spurrier. Florida, because they're always in between us and an SEC Championship. Alabama, because, well, why do the Hatfields hate the McCoys? Nobody remembers, but the disdain is tangible. The Alabama rivalry is second to Florida now only because Florida's beaten us more often more recently. Steve Spurrier is third primarily due to the residue of his tenure at Florida.

8. Along those same lines, here's a hypothetical for you: Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban and Mark Richt are all on fire (literally) and you only have one bucket of water. What do you do? What would Fulmer do in the same situation?
Wow, if Mark Richt wasn't part of the scenario I'm certain that both Fulmer and I would have dumped the water out into the sand. But Richt is a saint, and I love the guy, so I'm dousing him and then asking him to repay me by moving out of the SEC. Fulmer is such a nice guy that he'd text the fire department first and then get them all to stop, drop, and roll, carefully rationing the water for each of them.

9. Sorry to bring up bad memories, but which of UT's three losses to Arkansas was the most painful - 1992, 1999 or 2006?
I'll go with 1999. We were ranked third in the nation with only Arkansas, Vandy, and Kentucky to go, and y'all deprived us of a chance to repeat as national champs. Thanks for asking.

10. Finally, we have to ask: what exactly is the deal with "Rocky Top"? Do Tennessee fans really love the song that
much, or do you guys just enjoy driving everyone else a little crazy?

Ah, false dilemma. The answer is yes and yes. We love the song because it conjures up positive feelings about our sports programs, and we love it because everybody else hates it. And really, if you don't know the lyrics of the verses, you're really missing out. Every states-rights-lovin' Southerner ought to love the outright contempt for federal revenuers.

Thanks, guys! It's been fun. Good luck Saturday. Please don't set any records against us, okay?

(image is "Rocky Top" by Steve Ford; from www.yarbroughandassociates.com)

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