UT on the rise, Vanderbilt losing altitude

first_imgWhen Vanderbilt walked off the field at Neyland Stadium on Nov. 23, 2013, the pendulum definitely had swung in the Commodores’ direction.Vanderbilt owned back-to-back victories over Tennessee for the first time since 1925-26. The Commodores were headed to their third straight bowl while the Vols remained bowl-less for the third consecutive season.The evidence was right there in black and gold: Not only had Vanderbilt caught up to UT, the Commodores had passed the Vols.Barely one year later, the pendulum has swung in the other direction.Vols eye bowl while Vandy aims to spoilEntering kickoff at Vanderbilt Stadium, UT is trending upward, although the program still has a long way to go to return to relevance on the national stage. Meanwhile, the Commodores are in decline after a heady three-year run.In other words, it seems like old times.For years — decades, really — UT dominated this series. The Vols won 22 in a row over Vanderbilt from 1983-2004. UT had won 28 of 29 games before the Commodores broke through in 2012.Vanderbilt’s back-to-back victories got the Vols’ attention, particularly those players from the Nashville/Midstate area.Vandy football coach Mason deserves a second season“We want to beat Vanderbilt every year,” said UT linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who is from Clarksville. “It’s a rivalry game. They got us the last two years and we don’t like those guys. …“I’m from Middle Tennessee. I see that black and gold everywhere.”Conversely, Vanderbilt players have grown accustomed to seeing orange. It comes with the turf, said Commodores senior center Joe Townsend, who grew up in Hendersonville.“It’s the state of Tennessee. We’re a private institution,” he said.Marshall County’s Aaron Medley shining for VolsThose looking for a quick, convenient explanation for the changes of direction by the two programs find a common denominator in James Franklin. On his three-year watch as Vanderbilt coach, Franklin oversaw a period of extraordinary success by the Commodores. And he was a thorn in the Vols’ side.In three games against UT, Franklin lost the first in overtime and then won the next two. Vanderbilt’s 41-18 bludgeoning of the Vols in 2012 was the program’s largest margin of victory over the Vols since 1925.“When we beat them here two years ago, that was the most fun I’ve had winning a game,” said Andrew East, special teams captain for the Commodores. “There was a party on the field after the game.”Vanderbilt calls Vols ‘ugly orange,’ ‘team out east’When Franklin bolted for Penn State in January, the game changed. UT seized momentum, both in recruiting and on the field. Two local players that previously had committed to Vanderbilt — Jashon Robertson of MBA and Michael Sawyers of Ensworth — changed direction and signed with the Vols.While Franklin deserves considerable credit for what he accomplished at Vanderbilt, it helped that he caught the UT program at a historical low. Franklin arrived at Vanderbilt in 2011, which was the second year of Derek Dooley’s tenure in Knoxville. Dooley’s .417 winning percentage is the lowest in UT history by a coach who was on the job for three years or longer.The last decade has been a period of significant transition for both programs. At kickoff, Derek Mason will become the fourth Vanderbilt coach to face the Vols in the last six years. Butch Jones is UT’s fourth coach since 2008.Vandy QB Patton Robinette gets another shot at VolsObviously, neither program is contending for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Far from it. UT ranks fifth in the SEC Eastern Division and Vanderbilt seventh. The Vols need a victory over the Commodores to break their bowl drought. Vanderbilt’s bowl streak ends at three.Even so, the numbers tell us that UT is on an uptick while the Commodores have lost altitude. The Vols own a 5-6 overall record and have won two SEC games. Vanderbilt’s only victories have come against non-conference opponents Massachusetts, Charleston Southern and Old Dominion.But a win over UT would remove some of the sting of a bad season.“There is no love lost between these football teams,” Mason said.Truer words have never been spoken.Reach David Climer at 615-259-8020 and on Twitter @DavidClimer. The game TENNESSEE (5-6, 2-5 SEC) at VANDERBILT (3-8, 0-7)When: 3 p.m. SaturdayTV/radio: SEC Network/104.5-FM, 1510-AM, 95.9-FMInteractive graphic 5 memorable UT-Vanderbilt gameslast_img read more

Panthers QB Kyle Allen will keep starting until he loses, report says

first_imgIf the team wins, the status quo reigns, as Allen likely keeps his job as Newton makes a slow and steady return to the field from his mid-foot sprain. If Carolina loses to Tampa Bay, it’s up in the air, but potentially it paves the way for Newton to return to his starting post when healthy.Even former Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, who made the trip overseas as an ambassador for the team, has noticed the difference Allen has made.“Everyone is saying this team is better without Cam than (with) Cam,” Williams said, per ESPN.Luckily for Allen, star running back Christian McCaffrey has helped make his job easier. He’s averaging 29.6 touches per game over the last three games compared to 23.5 under Newton and has totaled a league-leading 587 yards rushing.“I say this: They’re not asking Allen [to do] what they ask Cam to do,” Williams added. “That’s why the team is different. This is a West Coast offense, so when (offensive coordinator Norv Turner) took this position, he knew he had to tweak his offense. With Allen, all they’re asking him to do is throw the football and hand off to Christian. Rams injury updates: Todd Gurley (thigh), Aqib Talib (ribs) out vs. 49ers Rams’ Sean McVay says it’s up to Todd Gurley if he wants to play vs. 49ers “When Cam was the quarterback they had Cam running the ball, he had the RPO he had to worry about, he had to make sure the water was cold on the sideline, he had to make sure nobody came on the field when they wasn’t supposed to. He had to control a lot of things. Literally, all Allen has to do is read defense as it relates to running the ball.”The Panthers are 3-0 since Allen took over under center and 4-0 with Allen as the starter dating to last year. On the other hand, Carolina had lost eight straight dating to last season with Newton at quarterback. He completed 50 of 89 passes for 572 yards with an interception and two fumbles in his two games this season.Carolina (3-2) and Tampa Bay (2-3) face off in an NFC South showdown at 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday. Kyle Allen will be feeling the pressure in London as he faces a sink or swim scenario.According to NFL Media, which cited an unidentified team source, the Panthers quarterback could be playing for his position when Carolina takes on Tampa Bay at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Davante Adams injury update: Packers star (toe) ruled out vs. Lions The Panthers initially had planned to place Cam Newton back under center once his Lisfranc injury is fully healed, but Allen’s unexpected success has made the team reconsider.Per the report: Related Newslast_img read more