It’s a Good Thing We Played Vandy
Tennessee 24 Vanderbilt 10
20 Nov 2010 | Vanderbilt Stadium | 37,017Recap | Boxscore | Play-by-play | Drive Chart
I’m going to resist temptation and not get hopping mad. We won, even though we played a horrible second half. It wasn’t pretty, and at times it was pure infuriation. But, we won.
I suppose it is a sign of improvement when we can get upset with how we play when we win – we’ve moved on from just hoping for a win against anybody. But it was troubling nonetheless.
The all-around thanks go to Vandy. Thank you Ryan Fowler for hitting the left upright just before the half (did anybody else experience a little deja vu on that one?) and allowing a second attempt to be blocked. Thank you Jared Funk and Larry Smith for throwing two INTs to perfectly offset our two INTs. Thank you Larry for throwing 11 completions for an average of less than 3 yards per completion.
Now for the ass-whipping. Early in the third quarter, defensive end Gerald Williams’ perfect read of Larry Smith’s short screen pass and picking the ball cleanly while in stride and taking it all the way for a touchdown was a beautiful back-breaking play that had us up 20-3. But defensive tackle Malik Jackson late hit on Smith that drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty wiped out the game-ender, we were back to 14-3, and things just got tediously poor the rest of the way. Unfortunate doesn’t seem to adequately describe the play.
And then there was the fumbled punt by Anthony Anderson moments before the non-pick-six… I’ll stop right there because I promised to not get hopping mad.
But seriously – can anybody on this team catch a goddam punt? Can anybody on this team call for a fair catch on a punt? Anybody? Any-fricking-body?
A little praise is in order. With the Vols up only 17-3 in the fourth quarter, Janzen Jackson made a huge interception near the goal line, just two plays after a penalty negated a Vanderbilt TD, and aided the Vols to hang on to the win. It was one of a few moments where the Vols defense came up with a play when they absolutely had to. And so did Tauren Poole in the closing minutes of the game, when he ran 28 yards for a game-clinching TD. It was a bummer that he wasn’t one yard further back, because Poole finished the night with 99 yards, meaning he will not be able to set the Tennessee single season record for most 100-yard rushing games.
But the bottom line is that Saturday was a win that we absolutely had to have, but a win that was as forgettable as I can remember, and I will not remember much past tomorrow. I’m glad it’s over and we can move on to the big show, THE game of the season, the game that will dictate how this team and season will be remembered. We will either be remembered as (1) a team that overcame adversity and achieved an improbable bowl appearance or (2) the team that allowed Kentucky to break the 25-win streak to knock us from the post-season.
It’s the difference between a successful season and a forgettable season.
At least Saturday’s victory prevented the dreaded record-breaking 8-loss regular season. I will remember that bit of fortune at the Thursday dinner table.