Dwight Howard brings the Charlotte Hornets a rim protector and a chance to improve this season. Oh, and something shiny and new for fans to be excited about. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Dwight Howard brings the Charlotte Hornets a rim protector and a chance to improve this season. Oh, and something shiny and new for fans to be excited about. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Tom Talks

Tom Sorensen's off-beat and often biting take on the world of sports

Tom Sorensen

Short takes: Dwight Howard’s value, and the Tennessee Vols’ split personality

By Tom Sorensen

Correspondent

September 28, 2017 9:46 AM

We like to see our athletes stick with the local teams. Kemba Walker, Ryan Kalil and even Julius Peppers, who took a long break, feel like ours. They’ve invested their sweat. Fans have invested their passion and money.

But we also like a new face, especially when it’s attached to the body of 6-11, 265-pound center Dwight Howard. Howard has been a tall temp the last few seasons, playing for four teams since 2012-13. I’ve written about his weaknesses and strengths. He does create possibilities.

Feels as if he has been around for decades. But he’s 31, and was born the same year as former Carolina receiver Ted Ginn Jr.. Ginn, who plays for the New Orleans Saints, beat the Panthers deep Sunday for a touchdown. ...

▪  About the Hornets: head coach Steve Clifford says this team did not improve as last season went on. Clifford is a teacher whose teams usually improve month to month if not week to week. It was a frank admission, and is one more reason that Howard is a Hornet. …

▪  To be a Tennessee fan is a challenge. But if you’re unaligned, the Volunteers play compelling football. They play up to their opponent’s abilities or down to them. Florida needed a last-second 63-yard touchdown pass to beat them in Florida. It wasn’t a Hail Mary. It was a great pass to an open receiver.

Last week the Volunteers played Massachusetts. The Minutemen came in 0-4. They generally are not considered a football power.

They had lost to Hawaii and to Coastal Carolina (good program whose alumni include former Panther cornerback Josh Norman and former Panther fullback Mike Tolbert). They lost to Old Dominion and Temple.

Favored by 28 against the Minutemen, Tennessee won 17-13. And the Minutemen lost their starting quarterback in the third quarter.

I’ve seen only two games at Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium; great place to watch a game. The Volunteers get No. 7 Georgia there Saturday, and the Bulldogs are an eight-point favorite. Georgia is very good. So expect Tennessee also to be.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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