- Josh and Swain Newsletter
- 🏈 Big goals remain for Tennessee Football
🏈 Big goals remain for Tennessee Football
November matters again for the Vols
Hello. This is the Josh and Swain Newsletter, a quick roundup of the week’s top stories and topics involving Tennessee and the sports world.
Here’s what we have for you today:
Why November can be a big month for Tennessee Football
How Joe Milton has improved following early-season struggles
Honoring the legendary Pat Summitt
Hype is rising for Tennessee Basketball
DON’T QUESTION JOSH HEUPEL’S OFFENSE
Tennessee is lining up for a big November
You might be familiar with the expression “they remember what you do in November.”
That saying kind of lost its meaning in recent years when Tennessee needed November just to make a bowl game.
Tennessee fans spent more than a decade trying to forget the November football they had just watched.
Tennessee (6-2) enters November with at least six wins for only the second time since 2006.
The other season that happened: last year, when the Vols were 8-0 to start November.
Tennessee is once again playing for something in the final month of the regular season.
The Vols need help to have a shot at the SEC East.
Georgia needs to lose either this week against Missouri or next week against Ole Miss for Tennessee to stay in the SEC title race.
But if that doesn’t happen, the Vols have other big goals on the board.
A New Year’s Six bowl is an option if Tennessee goes 4-0 this month.
Yes, that’s a big ask… so what if Tennessee goes 3-1 in November?
That leaves a 10-win season with a bow victory on the table.
And a 9-3 regular season would put Tennessee in a position to go to another bowl game in Florida.
Tennessee has two real games (at Missouri on Nov. 11, home vs. Georgia on Nov. 18) to close out the season.
With all due respect to UConn this week and Vanderbilt on Nov. 25, we already know the winner and loser of those games.
(And if it turns out we don’t, we’ll address that as needed.)
This week is about preparing for the final month.
Tennessee’s starters will attempt to dominate UConn early and hand the game over to the backups.
Because the Vols have bigger things to worry about — starting next week at Missouri.
THE IMPROVED JOE MILTON
Joe Milton showed us something in October
Joe Milton III entered this season with a ton of hype.
It’s well-documented why he received it.
And everyone knows he didn’t live up to it, whether the hype was fair in the first place or not.
But here’s something he has done: improve as the season has gone along.
Is Milton playing at the same level Hendon Hooker did last year?
But that shouldn’t be the expectation.
Milton has adjusted his game by running the ball more.
Milton running the ball doesn’t just help the offense — it appears to help Milton get into a rhythm.
It also causes more worry for opposing defenses.
Heupel has figured out the strengths and weaknesses of the offense.
That doesn’t mean every call by Heupel or decision by Milton has been correct.
Heupel admitted he made some bad in-game calls following the win against Texas A&M.
But Milton’s performance against Kentucky was key to Tennessee winning on the road.
He was efficient (18/21 for 228 yards) and ran for a game-sealing first down on Tennessee’s final drive.
If we see more of that Milton in November, the Vols should have a strong finish.
There’s still more to prove.
Tennessee’s offense needs to be better in the red zone.
And strong performances against Kentucky and Alabama don’t automatically equate to playing well in future games.
Milton has a chance to finish his Tennessee career on a high note.
That would be a great way for fans to remember him.
We talked to Austin Price of Volquest about Milton’s improved play as well as the Vols’ opportunity in their final five games. ⬇️⬇️
🏈 Big Ten ADs held a video call with the conference commissioner, and talk of his ability to punish Michigan continues to gain traction.
🏈 For subscribers to The Athletic: College football coaches weigh in on how serious the allegations are against Michigan.
🏈 Here are five things the Vols SHOULD do against UConn on Saturday.
🏈 ESPN’s Rece Davis and Pat McAfee will host an NFL RedZone-style college football broadcast on Saturday.
🏀 Three Tennessee basketball players received preseason conference honors from SEC coaches. (More on the basketball Vols below.)
🏀 “I’m not a system player; I am a system.” Let the James Harden era with the Clippers begin.
➡️ Language warning but a great story below involving Michael Jordan from Bob Knight, who died at the age of 83 on Wednesday.
With Bob Knight passing away it’s almost a must to watch his speech where he talks about trying get on Michael Jordan’s ass in the locker room. An absolute classic! RIP
— Lance (@SportsGuyLance)
Nov 1, 2023
HONORING PAT SUMMITT
Tennessee’s football team will wear alternate accessories on Saturday.
The shade of blue might look familiar.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football)
Nov 2, 2023
Heupel announced on Monday that Tennessee would recognize Alzheimer’s Awareness Month by wearing “Summitt blue” accessories and offering a commemorative cup that will help fund UT Medical Center’s research on Alzheimer’s.
The Vols did this last year against UT Martin and it was an easy call again for the UConn game.
We already know the color combos work.
And the Vols will still have their traditional orange-on-white look for homecoming.
Most importantly: it will help an important cause.
“(Pat Summitt) had a great impact on the court,” Heupel said on Thursday, “but she had more impact off the court. It’s a really powerful legacy.”
➡️ If you’d like to support Alzheimer’s research at the UT Medical Center with a donation, click here.
TENNESSEE HOOPS HYPE
Dalton Knecht wowed a lot of people at Michigan State
The Tennessee men’s basketball team will open the regular season on Monday against Tennessee Tech.
Excitement is high for Rick Barnes’ team as the season approaches.
One reason has to be the Vols’ showing at Michigan State on Sunday.
It was just an exhibition but the atmosphere matched a big-time regular season game.
Without starting guards Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee beat No. 4 Michigan State 89-88.
Newcomers Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey put on a show, combining to score 48 points for Tennessee.
Knecht also showed off his hops in transition. ⬇️
A Josh and Swain listener pointed out another positive from Tennessee’s two exhibition games (the other against Lenoir-Rhyne): Tennessee had 48 fast-break points in the two wins.
Fast-break scoring was a problem for Tennessee last season.
If the Vols fix that issue, their potential for the season will rise.
And the potential already looks high.
Just ask Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. From Sunday:
Quick disclaimer: Before that quote, Izzo joked that Barnes is a good friend so Izzo wanted to put some pressure on him.
But Izzo’s praise of Tennessee’s basketball team was genuine.
The Vols have an impressive combination of experience and talent.
One of the biggest challenges for Barnes will be figuring out playing time.
We don’t know how injuries will play out, either.
This team will have to show it has the chemistry needed to make a run in college basketball.
But the pieces are there for Tennessee.
So is the excitement.
NEVER miss an episode of Josh and Swain. Here are a few ways to listen to the podcast:
Thank you for reading. And if you haven’t subscribed, please do so below to receive a free weekly email. ⬇️⬇️