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.
In 1998, first round draft pick Peyton Manning became the new quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. Team owner Jim Irsay opened that door for the former Vol great by first firing the general manager Bill Tobin, then coach Lindy Infante, and finally quarterback Jim Harbaugh. Fastforward to the present, 14 years later.
This month, Irsay started the deja vu train by firing vice-chairman Bill Polian and his son, Chris Polian, the general manager. Yesterday, head coach Jim Caldwell was fired. Big questions are obvious. Will Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck be the first pick in the NFL draft, currently held (unless part of a trade) by Indianapolis? And what of Peyton Manning, 36 years old, having recently had his third neck surgery since March 2010?
NOTE: After this article was written and posted, Derek Dooley announced that Justin Worley will be the Vols’ starting QB this Saturday against South Carolina. That announcement does not affect the views presented here; it enhances them.
The thankful end of Saturday night’s game at Alabama may come to be remembered as the beginning of the career of the next great Tennessee Vol quarterback.
I’m surely a heretical figure within the Vol Nation by saying that I’ve yet to be sold (completely) on Tyler Bray as a true big-time college QB. He’s not one.
Now, this all depends on one’s definition of “big-time.” I have my own. Young Tyler hasn’t met mine. Perhaps he’s met yours.
Perhaps he will become one. But that broaches into the territory of fortune tellers and sooth sayers.
Sitting in Peet’s, iPad working with wireless, morning coffee and pastry ready for consumption – it was a typical Sunday morning for Steven Sully, sitting across from his wife who preferred a tactile newspaper over the magical electronic version, ready to catch up on news from ‘back home’. That news often started with the goings and comings of Tennessee football.
Teddy Karwacki had just sat down in one of those comfy chairs at Remedy Coffee in The Old City district of downtown Knoxville early Sunday afternoon when he saw Mortimer Weinstein walk in. Teddy knew what was waiting as soon as Mort had gotten his mid-afternoon latte. “I suppose you want to give me a verbal dissertation about last night’s Heisman Trophy presentation?” Teddy said it loud enough over the music so that Mort could hear.