By: David Boclair
Posted: Friday, August 29, 2014 - 09:52

As a seventh-round pick, Andre Hal’s spot on an NFL roster hardly was guaranteed when the preseason started.

Having accomplished something no Houston Texans player – rookie or otherwise – ever had has to help, though.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Friday, August 29, 2014 - 09:36

This much is certain: Butch Jones can draw a crowd.

The University of Tennessee announced that Sunday’s 2014 football opener against Utah State is sold out. The last time the Volunteers sold out their first home game in a season was 2007. That also was the last time they topped 100,000 in attendance in their home opener.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Friday, August 29, 2014 - 05:15

It was the last thing anyone expected.

Yet Derek Mason hardly is the first Vanderbilt coach to experience a debacle of a debut, as was the case with Thursday’s 37-7 loss to Temple at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Mason, in fact, is the sixth of eight Commodores coaches in the past 30 years to lose his first game and the fifth to allow more than 30 points the first time out.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Friday, August 29, 2014 - 05:10

Johnny McCrary looked every bit like a third-string quarterback. Which made sense, given that he was the third one Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason tried on Thursday.

The problem was that neither of the first two, Patton Robinette and Stephen Rivers, looked anything like a starter in the Commodores' 37-7 loss at Vanderbilt Stadium.

When first-year coach Derek Mason put Robinette atop the depth chart late last week he said he planned to allow the third-year sophomore to make mistakes without fear of getting pulled. He was true to his word – for a little more than a quarter.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 13:30

The time has come to find out how much of a difference a coaching change can make.

Vanderbilt plays its first game under Derek Mason on Thursday when it hosts Temple (8:15 p.m., SEC Network) and players have talked plenty in recent weeks about how the attitude of the staff and the schemes it has implemented differ from previous years.

The idea, though, is to maintain – if not improve upon – the successful three-year run of James Franklin and his assistants.

The only way to do that is to win. A lot.

Finally, these Commodores have their opportunity.

By: J.R. Lind
Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 11:00

It was almost like the old place didn't want us to say goodbye.

Greer Stadium hung on as long it could, in both a macro and micro sense.

Thirty-seven years old and always more function than form, the stadium that's been due for replacement for a decade was filled up for its farewell. More than 11,000 people — jammed in every soggy crevice, shoehorned into every too-small seat — streamed into Greer Wednesday, cars backed up on Wedgewood and Eighth Avenue. Even the back ways, the secret shortcuts of that clutch of cowbell-clanging season-ticket holders — Hamilton, Alloway, Ft. Negley Boulevard — were stop-and-go. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to bid adieu to the ballpark they'd eschewed for years.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 05:15

Justin Hunter knows the question is going to come up.

The fact that he and former University of Tennessee teammate Cordarrelle Patterson will be at LP Field with their respective NFL teams for a preseason contest (7 p.m., WKRN-TV Ch. 2) is a perfect reason for someone to ponder what might have been for the Volunteers two years ago.

After all, Hunter and Patterson were supposed to be two-thirds of a dynamic receiving trio in 2012. It turned out that they were a two-man band when Da’Rick Rogers got in trouble and played that year at Tennessee Tech. He too is in the NFL, as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

Then again, someone is just as likely to raise the issue because it’s a Thursday.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 05:10

The question about whether or not Jurrell Casey could play defensive end in a three-man front after three productive years as a defensive tackle in a four-man front was answered Wednesday afternoon.

That’s when the Tennessee Titans made Casey one of the league’s highest-paid 3-4 defensive ends. Or at least they made sure that he would be when they signed him to a reported four-year, $36 million contract extension ($20.5 million guaranteed) that takes effect with the start of the 2015 season.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 12:05

Most coaches would dismiss the possibility that their football team might overlook a seemingly overmatched opponent.

Not Butch Jones.

The University of Tennessee coach knows first-hand how a smaller program can sneak up on a larger one in matchups like Sunday’s season-opener against Utah State at Neyland Stadium.

By: David Boclair
Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 11:40

The Nashville Sounds want fans to walk away from Greer Stadium on Wednesday night with a bunch of fond memories. And that’s about it.