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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
One of my favorite sportswriters the I read in the local papers in the Bay Area is fond of a certain format that is based on three dots used to represent not so much missing information in a sentence as a pause in thought – a transition to another thought or subject.
Hence the title of this post, unless you failed english grammar, or are too old to remember.
Off we go. …
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.