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3 ways Tennessee Titans can thrive like the Chiefs (other than cloning Patrick Mahomes)

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3 ways Tennessee Titans can thrive like the Chiefs (other than cloning Patrick Mahomes)


Let’s avoid the obvious here.

The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions for the third time in five years, and the answers to “how” and “why” are pretty obvious: The Chiefs have quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and the rest of the league doesn’t. Mahomes is the gold standard, the catalyst, the star-maker. The three-time Super Bowl MVP is the suffocating kind of great who lost the capacity to surprise any opponent with his talents half-a-decade ago but still manages to bewilder any time he steps on the field.

For a team like the Tennessee Titans, playing in the AFC in the shadow of Mahomes’ dominance can feel like a curse. No team can out-Mahomes the Chiefs. But while the blueprint for the Chiefs’ dynasty centers around Mahomes, it doesn’t end there.

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Here are three lessons the Titans can learn from Kansas City, other than of “just have Mahomes.”

Don’t worry about making an offseason about one thing

After losing the Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers amid offensive line injuries and struggles, the Chiefs spent the 2021 offseason fortifying the front. They signed All-Pro guard Joe Thuney and drafted guard Trey Smith and Pro Bowl center Creed Humphrey, ensuring Mahomes wouldn’t need to worry about protection again.

After losing the AFC Championship game to quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals’ high-flying pass attack the next year, the Chiefs spent the 2022 offseason rebuilding their secondary. They signed safety Justin Reid and drafted five defensive backs, including All-Pro cornerback Trent McDuffie. In two seasons, the Chiefs went from No. 26 in yards allowed per pass play to No. 3.

Sometimes turning one weakness into a strength is more valuable than trying to plug leaks across the entire roster. Sure, it’s easier to do that when you already have a strong roster than when you’re at the beginning of a rebuild. But there’s clearly something to the idea of picking one concern and eliminating all doubt about it.

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It’s time to reevaluate the offensive identity

Here are quick fact that illustrates to what degree the NFL has become a passing league: The NFL has put out a player-ranked list of the 100 best players in the league every offseason since 2011. There are 33 running backs who’ve ever ranked in the top 50. Only two went on to win a Super Bowl the season after earning that honor: Ray Rice in 2012 and Marshawn Lynch in 2013.

It’s been more than a decade since one of the NFL’s best running backs won a Super Bowl. No player who’s even finished in the top-five in rushing has won a Super Bowl that year since 2004. In the years the Chiefs won their three Super Bowls, their leading rusher has ranked No. 18, No. 25 and No. 39 in rush yards.

There’s obviously still a place in the league for running backs. Christian McCaffrey and the San Francisco 49ers were a blocked extra point away from rendering this trend obsolete Sunday. But as the Titans enter into a new era, their 25-year identity as a run-first team needs to be reevaluated, whether that means favoring more of a running-back-by-committee approach or deemphasizing the run entirely.

ESTES: The Tennessee Titans sure are trying hard to make you like Ran Carthon

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Replace, but also rebuild

The Chiefs haven’t been immune to roster turnover as they’ve built their dynasty. Stars like Tyreek Hill, Tyrann Mathieu, Orlando Brown Jr., and Frank Clark have all moved on or been moved on from. And while there have been some instances where the Chiefs replaced a player with a comparable talent, like Mathieu for Reid, there are just as many instances where Kansas City used a departure to rethink their roster.

Instead of replacing Hill with another top-tier receiver, the Chiefs recast their offense as a more efficient, short- and intermediate-pass heavy attack. Instead of panicking about Mahomes’ blind side without Brown, the Chiefs signed a high-price right tackle instead and reconfigured the line to get more players in optimal positions. Without Clark’s consistency off the edge, the Chiefs went from blitzing on 24.2% of defensive snaps in 2022 to blitzing 32.9% of the time in 2023.

There’s no one way to win. The Chiefs seem less concerned with getting better “the Chiefs way” than they do with getting better by any means possible. The Chiefs don’t need to reinvent themselves, which makes the fact that they keep finding small ways to do just that even more inspiring.

Nick Suss is the Titans beat writer for The Tennessean. Contact Nick at nsuss@gannett.com. Follow Nick on X, the platform formerly called Twitter, @nicksuss.



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VolReport – Vols return favor, rout Texas A&M in rematch

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VolReport  –  Vols return favor, rout Texas A&M in rematch


Tennessee got its revenge Saturday and moved into a two-way tie for first place in the SEC in the process.

Two weeks to the day that the Vols were upset on the road at Texas A&M, they returned the favor in a big way turning a close game into a second half rout to win 86-51 at Food City Center.

Following Alabama‘s blowout loss at Kentucky earlier in the day, Tennessee (21-6, 11-3 SEC) drew even with the Crimson Tide in the league standings as March approaches.

TALK ABOUT IT IN THE ROCKY TOP FORUM.

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Dalton Knecht paced the Vols with a game-high 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 4-of-9 from three-point range while Jonas Aidoo notched a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Zakai Zeigler dished 14 assists and recorded four steals and had zero turnovers.

After scoring 27 and 23 points in the first match up, Texas A&M (15-12, 6-8) guards Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford finished with 11 points each Jace Carter totaled 10 points.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Tennessee looked like it was letting out its frustrations in the first couple of minutes.

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Knecht opened with a layup, Josiah-Jordan James knocked down a jumper and a Knecht 3-pointer put the Vols up 11-3 just over four minutes into the first half, but Taylor hit back-to-back threes to help the Aggies withstand Tennessee’s hot start to pull within three.

Texas A&M took its first lead at 15-13 on an Obaseki layup as offensive fouls on the other end plagued the Vols and kept them off balance until Tobe Awaka pulled down a two-handed dunk to end a three-plus minute scoring drought.

A steal from Zeigler that setup a put-back by Jahmai Mashack gave Tennessee a 17-15 lead around around the midway point of the half. Zeigler extended the Vols’ run to 7-0 with a 3-pointer out of a timeout to pull ahead 20-15.

Another scoreless stretch for Tennessee allowed Texas A&M to overcome its own offensive woes. Carter’s 3-pointer with five minutes, 41 seconds to go in the half cut the Vols’ lead to one at 22-21.

Carter hit another two possessions later to even the score at 24-24.

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As back-and-forth as much of the first 20 minutes were, Tennessee managed to create some separation for itself, closing out the half on a 13-3 run that was capped by a Santiago Vescovi corner three at the buzzer to lead 37-27 at the break.

The Vols’ strong close to the first half poured over into the second. Both Knecht and Vescovi tallied 3-pointers and an assertive dunk from Aidoo put Tennessee up 47-32, forcing Texas A&M into a timeout just three minutes into the period.

The Vols piled on from that point, stretching their lead to 20 at 59-39 after Mashack scored off of Texas A&M turnover with 10 minutes, 27 seconds remaining.

Tennessee’s suffocating defense made it hard for the Aggies to find any kind of rhythm. Texas A&M was shooting just 29.6% from the field more than halfway through the half.

Two sequences set up by the Vols’ defense defined the half. The first was when Zeigler stepped in front of a pass at halfcourt and finished off his fourth steal with a reverse layup. The second came when Knecht grabbed a defensive board and lobbed a pass to Aidoo who finished it off with a dunk to give Tennessee a 70-45 advantage.

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STAT OF THE DAY

Texas A&M entered the game averaging more than 43 rebounds per game, which is good for second in the conference.

The Aggies held a considerable edge there in their previous meeting with Tennessee and it made a difference.

The Vols were out-rebounded, 43-35 which led to 15 second chance points for Texas A&M.

Tennessee dominated the paint in the second go around, beating the Aggies on the boards, 50-33.

Aidoo was the catalyst.

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After scoring just 6 points and finishing with only five rebounds two weeks ago, Aidoo offered a commanding presence that Texas A&M had no answer for.

UP NEXT

Tennessee starts off a daunting final four-game stretch to end the regular season with No. 14 Auburn in Knoxville on Wednesday.

The Tigers (21-6, 10-4) are coming off of a 97-76 win over Georgia on Saturday and are currently tied for second place in the league standings with South Carolina.

Tennessee split its two meetings with Auburn last season, winning one at home and losing on the road.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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Tennessee Baseball Use Big Fourth Inning To Take Game Two Over UAlbany | Rocky Top Insider

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Tennessee Baseball Use Big Fourth Inning To Take Game Two Over UAlbany | Rocky Top Insider


Photo By Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball fell behind early and struggled at the plate for the first couple innings of its game two matchup against UAlbany. But then the Vols’ offense exploded in the fourth inning got nine runs before they coasted to a 21-6 victory.

Here’s everything to know about the big fourth inning and more as Tennessee baseball cruised past the Great Danes on Saturday afternoon.

More From RTI: Play-By-Play Of Tennessee Baseball’s Saturday Win Over UAlbany

Tennessee Opens Things Up With Big Fourth Inning

It took Tennessee’s offense some time to get going in game two of the weekend series. The Vols didn’t score in the first three innings while stranding a pair of runners on base in both the second and third inning.

But the Vols finally got the bats going as they exploded for nine runs in the fourth inning.

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Freshman shortstop Dean Curley got the Vols on the board with a three-run homer into the second deck of porches at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Tennessee loaded the bases with a Dalton Bargo single and walks from Christian Moore and Dylan Dreiling. Then Billy Amick cleared the bases by roping a double down the left field line. Amick reached third on the throw home and scored an at-bat later via a Kavares Tears sac fly.

With two outs and no one on base it seemed like the scoring was likely over. But Tennessee’s bats went back to work with a Cannon Peebles walk and a mammoth 438-foot Robin Villeneuve home run over the batter’s eye in center field.

The nine-run inning all but put UAlbany away and it ran the Great Danes solid start, Connor Eisenmann, from the game as they had to turn to a shaky bullpen.

Tennessee Newcomers Produce At The Plate

Tennessee baseball brought in a number of talented newcomers this season and many of the transfers were locked into starting spots entering the season. But two Tennessee newcomers who have been battling for consistent starting positions had big games against the Great Danes.

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Dean Curley missed the opening weekend of the season with with a hamstring injury but has started at shortstop in three straight games since returning to the lineup for Tennessee.

Curley opened the scoring for Tennessee with the previously mentioned three-run homer in the fourth inning and finished the day one-of-four at the plate and was once again solid defensively. The California native now has a pair of three-run home runs in just three starts so far this season.

Junior college transfer Robin Villeneuve earned his fourth start of the season at designated hitter on Saturday and as he has in all his opportunities to date, he impressed against the Great Danes.

Villeneuve went two-of-three at the plate with a home run, walk and two hit-by pitch. Both have impressed in opportunities to date and are making it hard for Tony Vitello to take them out of lineup.

Solid Performances Across The Board From Tennessee’s Pitching Staff

Drew Beam got the ball for Tennessee on Saturday afternoon and after a rocky start turned in a solid outing. He surrendered a leadoff single to open the game and then a double to the ensuing batter which gave UAlbany runners on second and third with nobody out.

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The Great Danes brought home the first run of the game on the ensuing groundout but Beam stranded the second runner at third with a pair of strikeouts.

It was an up-and-down day for Beam. He retired the side in order in the second, worked around trouble in the third, retired the side in order in the fourth inning and allowed another run in the fifth. He ended his day allowing six hits and two earned runs while striking out four batters in five innings.

Tennessee used a number of arms out of its bullpen. RHP Aaron Combs retired the side in the sixth inning and LHP Dylan Loy worked around a one-out single to retire the side in the seventh inning.

LHP Luke Payne allowed a run in the eighth inning due to a double, a wild pitch and a sac fly. RHP JJ Garcia was the one reliever that really struggled, giving up three earned runs while recording the final three outs of the game.

All in all, it was a solid day for Tennessee’s pitching staff.

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Final Stats

Up Next

Tennessee goes for the weekend sweep of UAlbany tomorrow. First pitch is at 1 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.



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Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: How to watch, schedule, live stream info, start time, TV channel

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Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: How to watch, schedule, live stream info, start time, TV channel


Who’s Playing

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers @ Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Current Records: Western Kentucky 19-7, Middle Tennessee 11-16

How To Watch

What to Know

Western Kentucky has enjoyed a two-game homestand but will soon have to dust off their road jerseys. They and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders will face off in a Conference USA battle at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at Murphy Center. Middle Tennessee took a loss in their last matchup and will be looking to turn the tables on Western Kentucky, who comes in off a win.

Last Saturday, Western Kentucky’s game was all tied up 33-33 at the half, but luckily for them it didn’t stay that way. They came out on top against the Aggies by a score of 72-58.

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Meanwhile, after a string of three wins, Middle Tennessee’s good fortune finally ran out on Wednesday. They fell 76-68 to the Gamecocks.

The Hilltoppers are on a roll lately: they’ve won six of their last seven matches, which provided a nice bump to their 19-7 record this season. As for the Blue Raiders, their defeat dropped their record down to 11-16.

This contest is shaping up to be a blowout: Western Kentucky just can’t miss this season, having made 47.4% of their shots per game. It’s a different story for Middle Tennessee, though, as they’ve only made 40.9% of their shots this season. Given Western Kentucky’s sizable advantage in that area, the Blue Raiders will need to find a way to close that gap.

Everything went Western Kentucky’s way against the Blue Raiders in their previous matchup on February 3rd as the Hilltoppers made off with a 88-65 win. The rematch might be a little tougher for Western Kentucky since the squad won’t have the home-court advantage this time around. We’ll see if the change in venue makes a difference.

Series History

Western Kentucky has won 6 out of their last 10 games against Middle Tennessee.

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  • Feb 03, 2024 – Western Kentucky 88 vs. Middle Tennessee 65
  • Feb 09, 2023 – Western Kentucky 93 vs. Middle Tennessee 89
  • Dec 31, 2022 – Middle Tennessee 65 vs. Western Kentucky 60
  • Feb 26, 2022 – Middle Tennessee 69 vs. Western Kentucky 52
  • Jan 29, 2022 – Middle Tennessee 93 vs. Western Kentucky 85
  • Jan 24, 2021 – Western Kentucky 68 vs. Middle Tennessee 52
  • Jan 23, 2021 – Western Kentucky 82 vs. Middle Tennessee 67
  • Jan 11, 2020 – Western Kentucky 69 vs. Middle Tennessee 53
  • Feb 14, 2019 – Western Kentucky 71 vs. Middle Tennessee 63
  • Mar 01, 2018 – Middle Tennessee 82 vs. Western Kentucky 64





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