It's Thursday, and after a morning that was rather hectic, albeit not productive, we're here with an afternoon edition of the mailbag. We've got questions on quarterbacks so I'm hunkered down to talk about the signal-callers.
I'm going with Arkansas having a tougher transition year than the Vols, and I even have a reason for that. Actually, like two or three reasons, here it goes!
First and foremost, a season ago, Tennessee had a better offensive line than the Hogs. This year, as both teams transition into new systems, I'm betting on the Vols guys up front to make life easier on the skill players. Tennessee is going from a very pro-oriented blocking style to more of the spread-styled blocking. They will be asked to do less drive blocking and drop-back pass protection, and more zone blocking and slide protections.
Oh, and the ball will be coming out hot in Knoxville, another plus for the offensive line.
Meanwhile in Fayetteville, the gang is going from a blocking style that helped them out at times, to one that is asking them to be true monsters. Mauling people off the line with powers and counters and trying to knock blocks off is a lot to ask a team that was built to pass protect and buy its quarterback time to throw.
Thus, while Arkansas has the better quarterback options, I'm going with Tennessee's move being easier because of the system.
Gunner Kiel brings a lot of recruit hype that has yet to materialize to Cincy. This kid is athletic, he can run and throw and that's what helped make him elite coming out of high school. He impressed some folks at Notre Dame and people saw the potential, and after sitting out a year, he'll have a chance to prove what he can do in Cincinnati.
As for the Kiel and Tommy Tuberville relationship, at first blush it was intriguing. After thinking on it a little more, I don't think it matters nearly as much as we thought to begin with. Tubs is a defensive guy, so as long as he and Kiel can avoid outright despising each other, I think they will be OK.
Darin Hinshaw is the quarterback coach and Eddie Gran is the offensive coordinator, both guys are players types and what they have to do is fill the shoes that Neal Brown filled at Texas Tech: handle his guys. Kiel, along with the rest of the quarterbacks and skill guys, will be operating under the Hinshaw-Gran umbrella and I think they can exist like that.
Here's the thing I will say about Blake Bell, before we get into this, I think a lot of people forget that the kid can throw the football. So, I don't think they will struggle throwing the ball. Hell, given what they have on the roster there in Bell, Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight, I think Oklahoma is looking to do more than just throw it around the yard.
Knight and Thompson would be the other options if the offense stalls under Bell, both are smaller, younger and quicker guys. But, both are also more than just the Landry Jones or Sam Bradford types.
Oklahoma is going to lose some on the passing end, likely not having a 4,000-yard passer for the first time since Jones' first season when he took over for the injured Sam Bradford. However, I also think they will pick up some ground yards that will help make the team more dangerous as a whole and a lot less one-dimensional.
I honestly don't know. I've been experimenting with some different vinegar-based sauces, doing a lot of trial and error. I probably lean towards the vinegar sauce with a heat to it from the pepper flakes. You know, classic NC style. I'm not much for sweet sauce myself.