Tennessee avoided what would have been it’s first 8-loss season. The Vols also avoided a first-ever winless SEC season. But that is not the real story of this game. Read More…
The Ancient Greeks saw the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale all the way down to the smallest scale.
On Saturday night in Nashville, the Grecian Formula was in effect — the Volunteers exhibited the same deficiencies that we have seen all season long: (1) big plays/poor defense; (2) turnovers; and (3) coaching.
In the first half, the Tennessee defense held Missouri to 7 points (scored on a kickoff return for a TD), only 27 snaps, no big plays (none >20 yards), no Red Zone visits, only 4 first downs, and only 64 total yards.
Then, after taking the second-half opening kickoff, Kendial Lawrence ran a rather simple misdirection running play up the middle for 77 yards and a TD.
It cut the Tennessee lead to 21-14.
It cut a big hole in what confidence Sal Sunseri’s defensive troops may have gathered during the opening half.
It cut open the floodgates of the habit of losing.
Tennessee’s offense set a new school record for most number of total yards in a game (718). Tennessee’s defense set a new school record for the most number of total yards allowed in a game (721).
Both of these events happened on the same day, in the same game, which also saw the most combined yards in any Tennessee game (1,439).
During his introductory press conference in 2010, Derek Dooley said that under his leadership, the Vols would play exciting football. Saturday was exciting, but Dooley didn’t have Saturday in mind when he said this almost three years ago.
Alabama’s resounding victory over Tennessee Saturday showed why the SEC will likely be playing for yet another national championship.
Tennessee’s depressing performance showed that the decisions made in the coming weeks by Dave Hart and his advisors/financiers will determine when the next sellout of Neyland Stadium will be.
The Vol defense is killing the promise of this season.
But you already knew that.
And some of you think of that promise as being long dead.
With 12 minutes left to play in the second quarter, it looked like Georgia’s 17-point lead would increase by the minute to the point where CBS would announce that at halftime they were switching to another game, any game, to prevent the nation from viewing the continuing carnage.
Instead, Tennessee would hold the lead before halftime after three unanswered touchdowns. It was a game that by the fourth quarter had turned into a football war — one fitting for this rivalry series already filled with crazy, memorable games.
Some interesting factoids from Saturday night’s win over Akron…
Beginning with Tyler Bray’s pass that was intercepted and returned for an Akron touchdown on just the fourth play of the game, Tennessee found themselves in a difficult position for much of this game. It wasn’t until the Vols were able to get their third interception deep into the final quarter that Big Orange Country was able to exhale.
For the neutral fan, this was a highly entertaining game. A tally of 977 total yards, 630 of which were in the air, will tend to create that kind of enjoyable viewing. But for the Volunteer fan, this was anything but fun. There were visions of a season-destroying loss that kept appearing in the collective consciousness of the Vol Nation.
What correlates to winning and losing a football game?
In other sports, particularly baseball, the use of certain descriptive and analytical statistics has been a developing subject for nearly 40 years (Sabermetrics). However, it is a relatively new endeavor for football. The book The Hidden Game of Football, the highly influential book published in 1988, is considered by many as the first systematic statistical approach to analyzing football in a book. Now there are subscription services, websites, blogs, and other media outlets that assess football games with statistics that have been further developed beyond what Pete Palmer, Bob Carroll and John Thorn started with their 1988 book. The website Football Outsiders is probably thought of as the leader in this arena of assessing the relative rankings of teams and game performances.
Borrowing some ideas from these sources, as well as using some more obvious numerical descriptions, I thought I’d take a crack at examining last Saturday’s Florida-Tennessee game with numbers beyond what you normally find in the game’s box score. All of the tallies and calculations are my own and thus any inaccuracies are due to the same type of errors that caused this author to make B’s in stead of A’s in calculus in two of my three quarters of classes in Ayres Hall.
There are a lot of cliches involved when it comes to certain situations that arise in life, including sports, and how those situations are handled. Saturday in Knoxville presented an experiment for how an individual, or a group of people such as a college football team, responds when things don’t go their way.
It was just another physio-psychological experiment colored in orange and white.
Much of the response is learned behavior. Yes, there is physical ability, strength, and technique. But the missing leg to a stable chair is the mental strength. Part of that is within the makeup of a person. However, conditioning (psychological) is involved. Scenarios defined as adversity are presented, and actions are implemented in response. Each individual plays his role and all is melded into the group, either positively or negatively.
Robert Neyland knew this well, so well infact that he addressed it with one of his Seven Game Maxims. Maxim No. 3 says, “If at first the game – or the breaks – go against you, don’t let up… put on more steam.”
Easier said than done.
It was getting late in the second quarter and the natives were getting just a bit more than restless. The completely outmanned Georgia State Panthers were down only 14-6 in a game that should already have been decided. But Tennessee struck swiftly and decisively, just as they did last week against NC State. And then it was decided. Thoughts immediately turned to next Saturday.
It’s funny how a single victory can turn around the entire vibe of a college program. But that is exactly what has happened with the Tennessee win Friday evening over NC State.
It is easier for that to happen with a season opener after a bad season rather than a late-season win after a few losses in the same season. A record of 1-0 with an impressive performance means that all things are possible. An upset victory getting your team to 3-5 means that you just might go bowling at the most.
The air is fresher, the grass a brighter green, the flowers more fragrant. It feels like a brand new world. That’s the first scenario.
Everything still stinks. That’s the second scenario.
Derek Dooley did his best to dampen runaway expectations on Friday night by saying that this win is just that – only a single win. A record of 1-0 doesn’t mean anything other than you are 1-0.
Nice try, coach.