It’s a Good Thing We Played Vandy

Tennessee 24  Vanderbilt 10

20 Nov 2010 | Vanderbilt Stadium | 37,017

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I’m going to resist temptation and not get hopping mad. We won, even though we played a horrible second half. It wasn’t pretty, and at times it was pure infuriation. But, we won.

I suppose it is a sign of improvement when we can get upset with how we play when we win – we’ve moved on from just hoping for a win against anybody. But it was troubling nonetheless.

The all-around thanks go to Vandy. Thank you Ryan Fowler for hitting the left upright just before the half (did anybody else experience a little deja vu on that one?) and allowing a second attempt to be blocked. Thank you Jared Funk and Larry Smith for throwing two INTs to perfectly offset our two INTs. Thank you Larry for throwing 11 completions for an average of less than 3 yards per completion.

Now for the ass-whipping. Early in the third quarter, defensive end Gerald Williams’ perfect read of Larry Smith’s short screen pass and picking the ball cleanly while in stride and taking it all the way for a touchdown was a beautiful back-breaking play that had us up 20-3. But defensive tackle Malik Jackson late hit on Smith that drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty wiped out the game-ender, we were back to 14-3, and things just got tediously poor the rest of the way. Unfortunate doesn’t seem to adequately describe the play.

And then there was the fumbled punt by Anthony Anderson moments before the non-pick-six… I’ll stop right there because I promised to not get hopping mad.

But seriously – can anybody on this team catch a goddam punt? Can anybody on this team call for a fair catch on a punt? Anybody? Any-fricking-body?

A little praise is in order. With the Vols up only 17-3 in the fourth quarter, Janzen Jackson made a huge interception near the goal line, just two plays after a penalty negated a Vanderbilt TD, and aided the Vols to hang on to the win. It was one of a few moments where the Vols defense came up with a play when they absolutely had to. And so did Tauren Poole in the closing minutes of the game, when he ran 28 yards for a game-clinching TD. It was a bummer that he wasn’t one yard further back, because Poole finished the night with 99 yards, meaning he will not be able to set the Tennessee single season record for most 100-yard rushing games.

But the bottom line is that Saturday was a win that we absolutely had to have, but a win that was as forgettable as I can remember, and I will not remember much past tomorrow. I’m glad it’s over and we can move on to the big show, THE game of the season, the game that will dictate how this team and season will be remembered. We will either be remembered as (1) a team that overcame adversity and achieved an improbable bowl appearance or (2) the team that allowed Kentucky to break the 25-win streak to knock us from the post-season.

It’s the difference between a successful season and a forgettable season.

At least Saturday’s victory prevented the dreaded record-breaking 8-loss regular season. I will remember that bit of fortune at the Thursday dinner table.

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7 responses to “It’s a Good Thing We Played Vandy”

  1. rockytop78 says :

    Well, so much for irrational exuberance, and my hope of a 63-3 drubbing of Vanderbilt!

    I would sum up this game by saying that Tennessee played poorly enough to lose, but Vandy didn’t play well enough to win. It was certainly not an encouraging display by the Vols, with the talented and highly motivated Wildcats coming to town this coming weekend.

    But I, too, will give thanks that UT still remains one of two major/BCS teams (along with Ohio State, I think) that has never had an 8-loss season. While that may simply be a moral victory, I’ll take it after everything else this year.

    • NorCalVol says :

      Well put.
      Expectations grow when you eclipse the 50-mark two weeks running, then the team reminds you of who they really are.
      But then again, it’s hard to pin them down other than to say they are young and inconsistent.
      They are as liable to bounce back and play their A game next week as they are to lay a dud.
      Saturday is a monster game, because in part of obvious reasons, but more because of the fact that I won’t be able to stomach the end of the streak, no matter when that happens.

  2. Orangebobber says :

    Randall Cobb, Randy Sanders and the Kentucks will come to town wanting to take this one to us. We better key on Randall Cobb. He will be motivated to tell the Knoxville faithful, “I told you so”. Putting pressure on their quarterback and stopping Randall Cobb are keys to this next victory. Thanks God it is at our house. I believe we are capable of playing better and if this team could be thought of loosing focus, we did last Saturday. Hope the crowd is a difference maker and we make kittens from Wildcats.

  3. tk says :

    i like the thoughts of kitten stew bobby…….would taste good a couple of days after turkey dont you think?
    and fred…….my seniments exactly…..and my prominent thought when this game was over—–why cant we call for a fair catch……and on the rare occasion we do no one is within eight yards of the receiver….but why cant we signal for a fair catch.

    • NorCalVol says :

      Yep. What I wrote in this post is worth repeating: “Can anybody on this team call for a fair catch on a punt? Anybody? Any-fricking-body?”

    • rockytop78 says :

      I think that on one punt by Vandy late in the 4th quarter we didn’t even bother to have a returner back there, we just let Vandy down it with no return. A sad commentary.

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