Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday 17 November 2012 | 7:00pm EST
Vanderbilt Stadium (40,550) | Nashville, TN | ESPN2
Absolutely everything has been discussed this week within the VolNation. Everything except the upcoming football game.
Missouri Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday 10 November 2012 | 12:21pm EST
Neyland Stadium (102,455) | Knoxville, TN | SECN/ESPN3
This is one of the most interesting matchups of the season for Tennessee as well as being a game that holds little interest — all in the same bundle.
When South Carolina destroyed Georgia on October 6 by a shocking 35-7 score, the Old Ball Coach had his program ranked 3rd on the 6-0 W/L tally. How times have changed.
The motivation, as articulated by Vol linebacker Herman Lathers:
We know we have a big game coming up this weekend against the No. 1 team in the nation. You know, if you don’t come prepared they’re going to embarrass you.
Or potentially even if you do come prepared.
Besides lawsuits and fractured hips, not much has happened the last two weeks.
A welcomed calm. But next?
It’s Knoxville. There is always something next.
I don’t know if Derek Dooley’s hip injury came as he accompanied Robert Jordan’s bid to blow up a bridge in Spain or not, but this week’s visit by the Vols to the land of cows and their bells has me thinking about John Donne and Ernest Hemmingway.
Our fanbase is probably the only supporters of a 3-1 team that has a significant percentage howling for the head of their coach.
That symptom of fanaticism notwithstanding, the fans of the Georgia Bulldogs seem to be thinking that Saturday’s visit to Athens by Tennessee is just something to sandwich in between a grudge match with Vanderbilt and a monumental SEC East Division clash with South Carolina.
Vanderbilt and South Carolina. That’s what it’s come to I guess.
But, that’s OK. Whatever it takes to cause a foe to overlook you, to take you for a needed breather between two Saturdays of spent emotional energy.
Nearly all of the air is out of the Big Orange Balloon.
It wasn’t simply that Tennessee lost to Florida at home last Saturday – the day that ESPN Gameday came to Knoxville to cover the hype that had reached levels not seen for a UT football game since the late ’90s / early ‘oos.
It was more about how that game was lost.
It is the Tennessee Volunteers that are running an up-tempo, no-huddle, blitzkrieg offense instead of the Florida Gators whose offensive strategy is to slow the tempo down and milk the play clock as much as possible.
A shift in the balance of offensive weapons.
Saturday’s home opener against Division II school Georgia State holds little appeal. The interesting games this weekend are Florida at Texas A&M and Georgia at Missouri for two reasons. First, these are the first conference games for the two newcomers to the SEC. Second, the visiting teams are the Vols next conference opponents. Nonetheless, there are a few interesting tidbits about Tennessee’s opponent on Saturday.
In 1939, the Tennessee Vols kicked off their historic season with a 13-0 defeat of NC State in Raleigh. Why historic? The Vols not only dished out a shutout that opening day, but were unscored upon for the remainder of that regular season.
That is historic.
Whether or not 2012 is to be a historic season is for the pundits to have fun with. What is true is that this year’s opener against the Wolfpack is one thing if nothing else — a game the Vols must win. They must. Because if they don’t, and depending on how the loss goes down, Tennessee will find themselves behind the eight ball going into the Florida game with another must-win scenario before heading into another October filled with heavyweights.
Playing the November schedule with the only chance being a 6-6 season is a worse-case scenario. A win over NC State wipes that possibility off the table.
That’s how crucial this game is for Tennessee.
Finally, to the offense.
No, we’re not going to address the Da’Rick Rogers soap opera. Yet. Instead, we will begin where you should always begin with: the salt of the earth; the offensive lineman.
Where to begin? Last season, so many expectations were put on this O-Line before any of them stepped on Shields-Watkins Field for the opener. Those expectations were either over-inflated or just simply not achieved in any way, shape, or form. It all depends on how you look at it. One thing is certain – their collective performance was an embarrassment. I don’t know how else to put it.