Calling All Seniors to be Leaders
In-state enemy, the antithesis everything Tennessee, comes to town for Senior Day.
Vandy, at 5-5 this season, hasn’t won a road game.
Tennessee, at 4-6, hasn’t defeated an SEC school.
Sounds like an even game.
It doesn’t feel like it.
Love him or hate him, James Franklin has the traditional SEC doormat, fans and players alike, jazzed. Vandy is a typical lowly 2-5 in the conference, but three of those five losses were by slim margins: 5 points to an improving Georgia team; a 3-point heartbreaker to Arkansas; and 5 points down in the Swamp.
Against Arkansas, the Vols became the Hogs’ foil on the seemingly endless highlight reel from this past Saturday.
Franklin is implementing his undergraduate degree in psychology with an effect not seen in Nashville since perhaps the 1920s. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and that has rubbed off on his players.
Dooley sounds like a cynical, frustrated old man. Has he lost the locker room?
Franklin’s Commodores will be stoked coming off their 38-8 destruction of Kentucky last week. In fact, they were stoked during that game. Vandy’s last TD came when running back Zac Stacy carried eight Wildcat defenders with him over the final six yards of his 18-yard scoring run.
When is the last time you saw a Tennessee RB do something like that?
The Vols lack confidence.
Vandy’s confidence cup is overflowing.
And to make matters worse for the Vol Nation, high-school recruit Andrew Jelks, an OT from Paris, TN (Henry County H.S.), shunned UT for VU last weekend when he committed to be Franklin’s showpiece for the in-state recruiting war.
Riding that confidence to a win Saturday in Neyland Stadium would give Vandy only their third victory over the Vols since 1965. It would also make them bowl-eligible for only the fifth time in their long, depressing history of playing football.
And, it would knock the Vols out of the bowl picture for the third time in the last seven seasons.
What worries me the most is the level of fight in this Tennessee team. Is there any left?
Consider General Neyland’s Game Maxim No. 3: If at first the game – or the breaks – go against you, don’t let up. Put on more steam.
Breaks have gone against this Volunteer team so many times that it has left them nearly broken. They haven’t learned to play when the chips are down either.
Which leaves Game Maxim No. 7 — Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.
Based on what we’ve seen of late, that is nearly impossible to fathom.
Saturday is the seminal moment for this football team — it could have ramifications into the next wave of recruit commitments/signings as well as the 2012 season.
Do these players, as people, have the commitment, purpose, and heart to play a full 60 minutes, which is what it will likely take to beat Vanderbilt?
Forget the fact that we lack depth and experience. It’s time to reach down deep and bring up anything that is available.
Anything but a full-throttle effort on Saturday will be unacceptable.
It’s time for leaders, if there are any on this squad, to step forward.
If there are none, surely somebody can step up and at least act like one.
It doesn’t necessarily take a Senior to be a leader. Anyone will do.