For the second time this preseason, the Titans fell behind 17-0 at the start of the game. Unlike the opener at Atlanta, when turnovers had a lot to do with the Falcons’ early advantage, it was penalties and missed tackles that undermined the early effort in this one.
The starting offense, which played the entire first half, responded with 10 points before halftime but the second half belonged exclusively to the Kansas City reserves — right up until weather issues led to the game being called with 3:50 to play.
A closer look at some of the players and plays that made a difference:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kendall Wright, wide receiver
Quite frankly, there were not a lot of individual standouts. The fourth-year wide receiver was the one who finally got things going after the Chiefs had built their big lead. He caught three passes for 60 yards on Tennessee’s first scoring drive, a 10-play, 66-yard march that ended with a field goal.
That was enough to make him the Titans’ leader in receptions and receiving yards. It’s also worth noting that those three passes were the only ones thrown him way so it was a rather efficient performance.
Honorable mention: Perrish Cox, CB – The free agent intercepted a pass for the second straight game. He did not return this one for a touchdown but it did set up the offense’s only touchdown; Marcus Mariota, QB – For the first time this preseason, he showcased his running ability with 22 yards on three carries.
Charcandrick West’s four-yard run on third-and-1 that set up Kansas City’s second touchdown
With the ball at their own 39, the Chiefs decided to run left, which looked to be a bad decision. Linebacker Zach Brown got to West behind the line of scrimmage but failed to get him to the ground and the back managed to pick up four yards. The next play was a 34-yard reception by tight end Travis Kelce, which included two more missed tackles (Brown and Michael Griffin).
To be a good defense, you have to get off the field on third down and limit big plays. The best way to do both of those things is — you guessed it — tackle well. The Titans did not on those two plays — and a few others.
Honorable mention: Antonio Andrews’ 2-yard touchdown run – it was the only time the offense actually got into the end zone; Brown’s tackle of Knile Davis at the 2 after a 12-yard reception on third-and-goal from the 14 – the linebacker made two stops in three plays during a goal-to-go situation when the Titans actually forced a field goal attempt.
THEY SAID IT
• “They are a spacing offense, they have a lot of different combinations and when you don’t get a chance to really prepare against them, you can make some mistakes. That doesn’t forgive us for not tackling. We had a couple of times where we could have made some plays but we didn’t tackle guys. So that was disappointing.” – coach Ken Whisenhunt on the tackling issues.
• “There was three minutes left, the officials asked us to leave the field and then they contacted New York. Where the game was, it didn’t make any sense to go back out there.” – Whisenhunt on why the game was called.
• “They are just a good defense. They came out fast and the intensity was high. I think if we put together a couple more plays and got a first down on the first series, it would have been different. But again, they are a good defense.” – Mariota on the slow start.
• “It's too early to start panicking. We have this next preseason game coming up Thursday and then the start of the season. We just need to work on the things we need to work on and fix the things we need to fix.” – Griffin on the state of the team.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Just as was the case following Sunday’s victory over St. Louis, it’s important to remember that this was a preseason game so it does not necessarily paint a clear picture of what is to come.
For example, the Chiefs’ previous game was last Friday, which means they had two extra days of rest and preparation. No doubt, that was a factor in how things unfolded.
Perhaps the most important thing that has happened through the first three games has been Mariota’s consistent accuracy, regardless of the situation. He was 7-for-11 for 99 yards passing in this one and for the third time in as many games had a stretch of seven completions in eight attempts. He also did not commit a turnover for the second straight game (although Kansas City’s defense did have one prime opportunity for an interception).
Overall, the Titans have been underwhelming in the preseason. However, the plan since May has been to build around Mariota and he continues to look like a solid foundation piece.
(Photo: Getty Images)
It is a reasonable question.
Why is a statue of legendary Tennessee State women’s track and field coach Ed Temple adjacent to a baseball stadium?
The monument was unveiled Friday morning in a public ceremony and now stands near the right field entrance to First Tennessee Park, the Nashville Sounds stadium that opened earlier this year.
There it will remain as an enduring tribute to a man who coached 40 Olympians who won 15 gold medals (27 medals total) in a 44-year career that commenced during the era when Jim Crow laws were very much in effect. And, there, the thinking goes, people who otherwise would not get the opportunity to consider man and his vast accomplishments.
Temple already has a ubiquitous presence on the TSU campus. There’s the Ed Temple Track and Ed Temple Boulevard and the Olympian Statue, which commemorates the achievements of all of the school’s Olympic athletes.
The new Ed Temple statue occupies a place along the greenway that leads to the Cumberland River. It’s also in front of the currently-under-construction state garage. Plus, there’s the baseball stadium.
“It’s going to be a beautiful place once they get (the garage) finished,” Bo Roberts, one of the leaders of the effort to get the statue made and displayed, said. “This is going to be exposed to thousands of people who would probably never get to the TSU campus but are going to become aware of TSU and Coach Temple.”
After a disappointing season, changes are expected.
In the case of the Tennessee Titans those changes start with the offensive line.
Last season the Titans ranked 26th in NFL in rushing offense at 90.4 yards per game. The offensive line also allowed 50 sacks and 94 quarterback hits, which ranked 27th and 24th, respectively.
Needless to say, much offseason attention has been paid to making things better up front.
“I think we took a step in the right direction in this game,” center Brian Schwenke said Sunday after the Titans preseason victory over the Rams. “You know we had a slow start in Atlanta and I think it was a nice little wake up call. We’ve been doing well in practice but we just didn't put it into the game and I think we showed a little bit more this game.”
Andy Levitre was pushed to the second team in favor of Byron Bell who started at left guard. Rookie Jeremiah Poutasi (pictured) stepped into the starting role at right tackle.
“We wanted to come out and establish the run game,” Bell said. “For the most part and I think that helped with the play action pass and getting the ball downfield to a couple of guys. I think we ran the ball very well.”
The line shuffle appears to have paid off as running back Bishop Sankey, who was held to just 1.9 yards per carry in the preseason opener against Atlanta, averaged 7.5 yards per carry against St. Louis. In addition to the improved run game the Titans offense outgained the Rams 100-28 in the first quarter.
“That’s what you want to build your confidence, its nice to see your running back you know 10 yards down the field,” Bell said. “We’ve got to build on that and we want to run the ball. If we don't run the ball we don't move down the field.”
Bell, a free agent, was a starter at tackle in four years with Carolina Panthers and entered training camp as the leading candidate to be the Titans’ third different right tackle in as many seasons. He’s now at guard and Poutasi, a third-round pick this year and – at 21 years old – one of the youngest players in the league, is in line to start on the line.
“It introduces a new aspect to the play, you’ve got to work with new guys and create chemistry with those new guys,” Schwenke said. “(Sunday) was our first game together and I felt like we communicated well and went out there and played our butts off.”
Their next opportunity is Friday at Kansas City (7 p.m., WKRN-TV Ch. 2).
(Photo: Getty Images)
Michael Roos played early and often for the Tennessee Titans.
Drafted in the second round (41st overall) in 2005, the tackle out of Eastern Washington was an immediate starter who did not miss a game during his first seven seasons and sat out just once in the first nine.
He also played hurt.
A workers’ compensation claim settled this week in Davidson County Circuit Court included details of 28 injuries sustained during a 10-year career that ended in February when the 6-foot-7, 313-pound tackle announced his retirement. An examination two months later by a doctor chosen by Roos’ attorney deemed many of the injuries “minor” and were “resolved with varying periods of treatment received at the hands of team orthopaedic [sic] surgeon at athletic trainers,” according to court documents.
Roos and the Titans negotiated a lump sum payment of $76,633.70 with the acknowledgment that some of the former player’s injuries might require further attention for which the team “agreed to provide reasonable and necessary medical treatment.”
Although a knee injury ended Roos’ 2014 season after just five games, the Titans maintained that his “marketable talents, skills and physical abilities were not diminished by the subject injuries” and that his retirement was “voluntary.”
The rundown of injuries Roos sustained during his NFL career:
• Right clavicle and shoulder, May 26, 2005
• Right hand and right long finger, August 2, 2005
• Left hip, August 26, 2005
• Right arm and hand, October 24, 2005
• Left hand and finger, October 30, 2005
• Left leg and ankle, December 11, 2005
• Right leg and ankle, September 24, 2007
• Left leg and ankle, December 9, 2007
• Right leg and ankle, January 6, 2008
• Right arm and elbow, August 15, 2008
• Left foot, November 23, 2008
• Left leg, September 27, 2009
• Back, November 11, 2009
• Right arm and elbow, August 9, 2010
• Right leg and knee, August 28, 2010
• Left leg and ankle, October 10, 2010
• Back, October 28, 2010
• Back, August 2, 2011
• Neck and brachial plexus compression, November 13, 2011
• Left leg, thigh and groin, November 20, 2011
• Right leg and thigh, December 18, 2011
• Left leg and knee, July 29, 2012
• Chest and ribs, November 25, 2012
• Right leg and knee, December 2, 2012
• Back, May 30, 2013
• Chest, December 29, 2013
• Neck, August 23, 2014
• Right leg and knee, October 5, 2014
Halfway through the preseason the Tennessee Titans remain a tough sell.
Vivid Seats, a secondary ticket outlet, released an analysis this week of current prices for each NFL team on the resale market. The Titans, even with high-profile rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, are among the most affordable option at home and on the road.
The mean ticket price for 2015 Titans home games is $104. Only Kansas City ($102) is cheaper.
A look at the lowest mean home game NFL ticket resale prices for the 2015 season (source: Vivid Seats):
Kansas City -- $102
Tennessee -- $104
Indianapolis -- $113
Cincinnati -- $113
St. Louis -- $116
At the very least, it seems people have not adopted a wait-and-see stance with the 2015 Titans. Based on the median price for each of this season’s eight home games, fans are eager to get a first look.
The most popular ticket on the secondary market is the first home game, Sept. 27 against Indianapolis, which has a median price of $167, more than twice that of the Dec. 6 game against Jacksonville ($81). The cheapest seats for the Colts game are $68. The cheapest of the cheap right now is the final home game, Dec. 27 against Houston, for which seats are available for as little as $17.
The game-by-game breakdown of mean ticket resale prices for each of the Titans’ eight 2015 home games:
|Opponent||Date||Get-In Price||Median Price|
When it comes to road games, the Titans are one of 18 teams that causes a drop in their opponent’s mean ticket prices. The mean ticket price games on the road is 13 percent less than the norm for Tennessee’s opponents.
Jacksonville (minus 26 percent), Tampa Bay (minus 24 percent), St. Louis (minus 23 percent) and Houston (minus 20 percent) are among those that are a greater drag on the resale value of tickets.
Another chapter in the long running public-private school debate, as it pertains to athletics, will be written next week when the TSSAA legislative council will vote on seven proposed measures at a special meeting.
Among the items up for vote is an altered definition of financial aid and rewritten standards for what is a Division I or a Division II school. Issues pertaining to transfers and the size of coaching staff also are up for a vote.
The (Murfreesboro) Daily News Journal obtained a copy of the memo sent to all member schools that outlined the proposed changes. The council has the option to adopt the whole package or to address each issue individually.
The list of measures to be voted upon, as reported by the DNJ:
• Redefine financial aid. Currently this involves only tuition for athletes. Under the proposal, employment by a member school of an athlete or an athlete’s parents, guardians or immediate family — other than as a full-time certified teacher or classified employee — would be considered financial aid. This could affect some private schools playing in Division I and public schools that accept out-of-county athletes who pay tuition.
• Redefine Division I and Division II. Division I would be made up of any school that doesn’t offer need-based financial aid. Division II would be made up of schools that offer need-based financial aid, have a financial-aid program involving athletes and/or their immediate family or choose to participate in Division II.
This also would affect some private schools playing in Division I and public schools that accept out-of-county athletes who pay tuition.
• Define tuition payment for Division I and II. If tuition is charged, it must be paid by a parent or bona fide guardian or other family member for a school to remain in Division I. If a loan is secured to pay tuition, it must remain the obligation of the parent, guardian or family member to repay the principal and interest in full with no exceptions.
Any loan program, grant program, education foundation or similar program that is established and/or administered in part or full by a school or an official at the school for an athlete or any member of immediate family attending the school is considered financial aid. Schools with these situations must play in Division II.
• Establish new rules for transfers and coaching links. If a student transfers into a new school where an “athletic coaching link” existed in the past 12 months that student would be ineligible for 12 months at all levels in which the sports the link was present.
Links include attendance at an open gym or camp (and then transferring); playing on a non-school (independent) or summer sports team (and then transferring to that coach’s school); transferring to a school where a former coach has just been hired and transferring into a school where a former or current personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach is employed.
The rule does not apply if the student moves to his/her zoned school after completion of the highest ending grade at the previous school.
• Change eligibility rules for some middle school transfers. Any student who lives outside of the eligibility zone of a school and enrolls in that school after the end of his/her seventh-grade year would no longer be eligible in sports at all levels for his/her ninth-grade year.
• Establishweight training/conditioning rules. Only students who are enrolled and in regular attendance at the school may participate during the school year.
• Change number of coaches allowed. All coaches would fall into one of four categories: full-time certified teacher, retired educator, non-faculty coach and classified employee.
All coaches must be approved by the principal, superintendent and/or local board of education prior to coaching. All coaches must be submitted online in the school’s log-in area to the state office annually prior to coaching. Non-faculty and classified employees must complete the NFHS “Fundamentals of Coaching” and “First Aid Health, & Safety for Coaches” courses prior to assuming a position.
The TSSAA would remove current limitations on the number of non-faculty coaches that a school may use in a program.
Two months ago the TSSAA considered several options for a clear public-private split but in July the legislative council voted 5-4 against any such division.
According to the DNJ, the TSSAA staff developed these latest proposals. The vote will take place Tuesday at Murfreesboro.
It’s anything but a case of don’t ask, don’t tell.
The question of who will be Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback in 2015 has been asked repeatedly since Patton Robinette announced in March that he decided to give up the game to focus on academics.
Derek Mason said Thursday he has made his choice – and he has told.
During his first radio show of the season the second-year coach said his team knows who will be under center next Thursday when the Commodores open the season at home against Western Kentucky (7 p.m., SEC Network). Everyone else will find out when the game is played.
“The team knows who the starter is and … we’re not splitting reps or sharing reps,” Mason said during Commodore Call-In on WLAC-AM 1510. “There’s a starter and there’s a backup. We’re actually preparing that way. We’ve got seven days until game time and right now the reps are efficient. Guys are playing well. Everybody understands their role.”
It was a choice between sophomores Wade Freebeck and Johnny McCrary, who combined to start nine of Vanderbilt’s final 10 games last season. Neither had much success.
Freebeck started in victories over Massachusetts and Charleston Southern but did not finish either contest. Robinette replaced him against UMass and played most of the game.
Likewise, McCrary did most of the work against Charleston Southern. After that he started the final five games, including a victory over Old Dominion.
Freebeck completed 47.2 percent of his passes with one touchdown and five interceptions. McCrary completed 51.3 percent of his throws with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“The quarterback position is probably the most improved – as it should be,” Mason said. “We needed that position to be better.
“… We have a starter and we do have a backup. And I feel good about both of those guys and what they’re going to do for us.”
He’s just not going to say which is which.
(Photo: Getty Images)
The Middle Tennessee State men’s basketball team got some much-needed help Thursday.
Following a steady stream of offseason and preseason player departures, coach Kermit Davis announced a pair of additions, although one brings with him some off-court issues. Transfers Jacorey Williams (pictured) and Aldonis Foote are now a part of the program, which was down to 11 scholarship players.
Williams, a 6-foot-8 forward, was one of three Arkansas basketball players suspended indefinitely last month on first-degree forgery charges. It was alleged that the players executed a string of transactions with counterfeit cash over a two-day period.
According to the preliminary reports on the incident, the three players were "very identifiable from their tattoos, build, and general appearance" on videos that showed counterfeit $20 bills being used to purchase miscellaneous items, including "tobacco products," at various locations in Fayetteville.
The report added that the three admitted it was they on the video but denied any knowledge that the money was counterfeit.
Less than a week later, though, he was alleged to have committed a pair of assaults at a Fayetteville, Ark. nightclub, including one against a female.
Last week Arkansas announced Williams, who averaged 4.8 points and 2.8 rebounds last season, would not remain with the program.
"We trust our culture and structure will benefit both of these young men to be successful on and off the court," Davis said in a release from the athletics department. "We have done our due diligence in this process and look forward to Jacorey having a very productive redshirt year. Jacorey loved his time at Arkansas, but is looking forward to playing closer to his home of Birmingham next season."
Williams has one remaining year of eligibility but must sit out the 2015-16 season under NCAA transfer rules.
Foote, a 6-foot-6 guard, has two seasons of eligibility and can play right away after two years at Trinity Valley (Tex.) Community College, where he averaged 9.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in six games.
Holly Warlick has signed a one-year contract extension that includes a raise in “the $100,000 range” and one additional year in charge of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball program.
The Knoxville News Sentinel confirmed the deal Thursday with a university spokesperson, who added that the pact still requires final approval from university administration, which likely will be next week.
It means Warlick, who is 86-20 in three years as Lady Vols coach, is under contract for the next four seasons. Her teams have won or shared two SEC regular season titles (2013, 2015) and won one SEC tournament championship (2014). Last season UT went 30-6 and reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
Warlick’s assistants also will receive pay increases.
Ed Temple did things at Tennessee State University that no other women’s track and field coach had.
So it makes sense that he occasionally questioned whether there was anything more he actually could accomplish, particularly when it came to Olympic success.
In a Nashville Scene story about the statue of him that will be unveiled downtown near First Tennessee Park on Friday (the 9:30 a.m. ceremony is open to the public), he said he figured he peaked when he put six athletes on the 1956 U.S. Olympic team. He had a similar feeling eight years later when two his runners won gold and silver in the 100-meter dash at the 1964 Olympics.
Read the Scene piece here.
Of course, Temple stuck around a long time. He coached the TSU Tigerbelles for 44 years before he retired in 1994.
At that point, no one could say there was anything left for him to do.
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