It’s That Time Again – the 93rd

Alabama vs. Tennessee | 23 Oct 2010 | Neyland Stadium

7:00pm EDT | ESPN


One thing is for sure: no matter how bad the Tennessee Vols are at any particular time, during any particular season, I relish the Alabama game.

I’m not going to wax poetically about the history of this series – I’ll leave that to others in the blogosphere. No matter how time changes situations, team matchups, likely outcomes and the like, one thing remains a constant: Alabama sucks.

No justification or explanation necessary. If you don’t feel the same, and you are a Vol, I have nothing to say, other than “What?”.

*****

Having said that, I can’t remember a time when there has been a ‘Bama week with this much malaise (my perception from reading the media and blogs, and my own lackadaisical nature about Saturday). Perhaps 1977 – a year I have beat upon in this blog like a dead horse – comes close. But, during that horribly bad season (we were actually only 2-3 when we faced the Tide in that season, including a very close 14-12 loss to Auburn), we had Johnny Majors to remind us the meaning of this rivalry (during Majors’ junior and senior seasons, we beat Alabama 24-0, and 14-0).

We listened, we understood, we remembered, we related, we were excited.

We lost, 24-10.

We won only two more games that season: against Memphis and Vandy. Deja vu all over again?

*****

What has always struck me about the Tennessee-Alabama series is the streakiness of it all.

  • 1961-1966: Alabama won 5 out of 6 (the outlier was a tie).
  • 1967-1970: Tennessee won 4 in a row.
  • 1971-1981: Alabama won 11 in a row.
  • 1982-1985: Tennessee won 4 in a row.
  • 1986-1992: Alabama won 7 in a row.
  • 1993-2004: Tennessee won 10 out of 12 (including 7 in a row).
  • 2005-2009: Alabama won 4 out of 5.

There is no indication other than we are in the middle of another one of those times dominated by the Crimson Tide. Perhaps that is the nature of my malaise.

I’d probably be more jazzed for Saturday’s game if Alabama was actually better than they probably are at this juncture of their national championship defense. There are chinks in the elephant’s armor: injuries, youth, a somewhat-shocking loss in Columbia, South Carolina. They don’t seem so invincible all of a sudden.

But, our problems are more severe: we can’t run the ball, we can’t stop the run, we can’t…

*****

The most interesting story of the week for me is Dooley’s statement that backup QB Tyler Bray will play against the Tide, and his appearance may very well come before halftime. The actual quote – “We’ll figure it out… Let’s watch this week of practice and see where we go… I don’t want to get to halftime and we haven’t, but you never know how the game goes” – is a bit ambiguous. Does this mean Bray and Simms will trade snaps? Trade series? Trade quarters?

I don’t know how to read this. Perhaps Dooley has had night-visions where Simms suffers a concussion on his sixth sack of the first quarter and Bray is forced into the fray to have both of his arms broken on a safety blitz. I don’t know. Sometimes, when I read a quote from Dooley, or see a video of a statement, I have no idea what he’s talking about – sometimes he seems to have so much to say, it all doesn’t come out in complete sentences. In this instance, I wish I could read minds.

*****

I like Wes Ruckers’ optimism. He informs/reminds us that the Vols are not mathematically out of the SEC East race. Every team in the East has at least two conference losses; Tennessee has three.

I don’t believe for a second that Wes is truly optimistic. He’s just reporting that Dooley is expressing caution about his players bring up the W-L facts: “If you get yourself looking ahead, you’re going to get embarrassed”, said the coach.

I definitely understand that Dooley Quote. [Perhaps I’ll start calling these DQ’s, just to remind myself of soft-serve ice cream]

*****

Talk about optimism – Vol RB Tauren Poole would like to get 100 yards rushing on Saturday. All of us would like to see a miracle. The last time an opposing RB ran for 100 against the Tide was October 3, 2007. A mere 41 games later, that tally remains the last above the century mark.

As Dooley said this week, “… it’s nearly impossible to run the ball (against Alabama).”

I definitely understand that DQ as well.

*****

The last Vol game two weeks ago was son returning to his dad’s place of work. This week it is young coach hosting his mentor. If Dooley could be asked about that, he would probably say, “All that stuff means nothing. The only thing that means anything are the players who line up across from each other, and how well they have been prepared to allow them to be their best.”

Truly, that is a DQ that would have been well said.

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3 responses to “It’s That Time Again – the 93rd”

  1. Orangebobber says :

    Oh how I remember those down years when Ala beat us with the running games. It was sweeps and options and we could never seem to stop them. I think one of the worst was a game I attended in Birmingham and the score ended up at something like 56-28 in Ala. favor. When we left Birmingham with our tails between our legs, the fans had posted signs on almost every highway overpass as we were leaving. Signs that ridiculed the Vols. I have never forgotten that and vowed I would never go back to Birmingham for a game there.,
    Although this one is at home, I feel it could be a rough day since our run defense has not been great. My prediction, 38-24 Bama.

  2. norcalvol says :

    OB – you never will have to go back to Birmingham. And, my guess is that T-Town would be worse.
    However, the good days will be back.

  3. tk says :

    well guys I dont know if this is the blog to post scores on, or if fred will have another tomorrow but since i see that ob has done it then im ready too. in the back of my head i can see this being a total, and i mean total, blowout. that scares me. and the success that kentucky is having scares me too. but thats another ice cream cone on another summer day.
    however even with this feeling im not predicting the blowout. i have had the prognosticating calculator out for a few days now tabulating all the important information and what i come up with is TENNESSEE 20—ALABAMA 28. ……..and away we go!!!

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