Second Half Tennessee Vols Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Every game is a ‘big game’ for Vol fans. That’s what makes us great fans. We care. A lot.
But Saturday’s game against South Carolina is a really Big Game. This team has made it a big game due to psychological concerns – we now have a phobia of, a neurotic aversion to, a downright fear of the Dreaded Second Half.
I had a dream about Saturday’s game…
We kicked the Gamecocks’ asses up and down Shields-Watkins Field for the first 30 minutes and had a 23-0 lead at the break behind Tauren Poole’s 220 yards rushing and Justin Worley’s west-coast-offense-arm firing short, accurate darts out of two-step drops to a variety of orange jerseys. Trotting into the tunnel, players’ fists were pumping under the cauldron of the worshiping noise of Neyland Stadium.
But, prior to the second half, the players came back onto the field, each clutching his own personal riot shield, crouched down behind them while running unlike warriors, and donning head gear reminiscent of welder masks painted white with an orange “T” stenciled on each side. They were waiting for the flaming missiles to be thrown at them from their flatland opponent. They were waiting for the inevitable 28-0 third quarter beatdown.
All the players sat on the bench; no one was standing on the sideline for the kickoff. As a matter of fact, we had no players on the field for the kickoff. Yellow flags flew.
“Personal foul, Tennessee. No one on the field. Fourteen points to South Carolina will be applied when The Ol’ Ball Coach wants them.”
I woke up in a cold sweat, fearing that the game had already been played, with a final score of Tennessee 23 South Carolina 56. That meant that the Vols were outscored in the second half 56-0. I gasped for air!
Numbers are fun, and sometimes even meaningful. Hear are some to choke on…
Total points scored by Tennessee vs their opponents during this season shows a lonely one-point difference in favor of the opponents, 177-176. But breaking it into SEC and non-conference games shows a bipolar disorder…
- Tennessee has outscored non-conference opponents 128-49.
- Tennessee has been outscored by SEC opponents 128-48.
Remarkable mirror images. The fact that Tennessee are 3-0 against non-conference foes and are 0-4 against SEC teams is perfectly reflected by these numbers.
Everybody is talking about what a poor team the Vols have been in the second half this season. Some numbers…
- Tennessee has outscored all opponents in the first half 113-73.
- Tennessee has been outscored by all opponents in the second half 104-63.
- Tennessee has outscored non-conference opponents in the first half 87-28.
- Tennessee has also outscored non-conference opponents in the second half, but only 41-21.
- Tennessee has been outscored by SEC opponents in the first half 45-26.
- Tennessee has been outscored by SEC opponents in the second half 83-22.
That’s a bipolar disorder of a serious kind. Focusing on the most recent history – the Month from Hell so far – the Vols were outscored by Bama and LSU 52-0 during the second half. Most egregious has been the third quarter tallies…
- Tennessee has been outscored by all opponents in the third quarter 61-34.
- Tennessee has outscored non-conference opponents in the third quarter 28-5.
- Tennessee has been outscored by SEC opponents in the third quarter 56-6.
Thinking third quarters against only Georgia, LSU and Alabama, the Vols were outscored 42-0. In those three games, Tennessee was tied at the half with Georgia and Bama 6-6, and the Vols trailed LSU at the half by only 10 points, 17-7. And, against our last three SEC opponents, the Vols were outscored in the first half by a total of only 29-19, but were outscored 66-6 in the second half.
The fourth quarter is not as bad, but still nothing to stick four fingers up in the air about with 15:00 to go in the game…
- Tennessee has been outscored by all opponents in the fourth quarter 43-29.
- Tennessee has been outscored by non-conference opponents in the fourth quarter 16-13.
- Tennessee has been outscored by SEC opponents in the fourth quarter 27-16.
Sometimes, life is about winning the battles, skirmish by skirmish, instead of focusing on the war. South Carolina, injuries and all, will still be a formidable foe this Saturday. If we lose the game, let’s at least win the skirmish with The Dreaded Second Half. Hell, I’ll take a victory using just the third quarter score. And if I get desperate, I’ll be happy with just a win during the first five minutes of the second half.
How will we do it?
A shaman from the islands, hired by the largest boosters, goes to midfield after the Pride of the Southland Band does its thing.
Right before the teams come back to the field, the shaman collects from his urn the crushed up bones of all the deceased Vols in the College Football Hall of Fame and sprinkles them on the Power T at midfield. He wears charms and amulets, and also a necklace with a pouch around his neck, filled with the bones and toe nails of all the prior Smokey dogs. He then goes to the sidelines, and cuts locks from the hair of all the female cheerleaders, and attaches each of them to bracelets. As the players come back to the sideline, he places these bracelets on the wrists of all of our sideline coaches and ballboys.
Right before the kickoff whistle, he replaces all of the pylons with tiki torches.
The whistle blows. Palardy’s kickoff sails deep into the upper deck of the North End…
I can dream, can’t I?