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.
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.
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.
Tyler Bray is a prototypical pro-style college quarterback. He is tall, becoming more muscular as he physically matures, and has one of the strongest arms in the nation. But given the strengths, and more importantly the weaknesses of the 2012 Vols (and the 2011 team for that matter), could Bray be the wrong guy for this team?
A heretical thought?
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.
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 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.
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.