Where I come from rivalries are competitive. This one truly is not. Four years without a win over the Florida Gators. For the second time in four weeks I am embarrassed with the play of the Tennessee Volunteers. Volball reflects.
I had already prepared myself for this loss just to be honest, I just really didn’t think it was going to be as bad as it was this past Saturday at Neyland Stadium. For the first time I was not ashamed at the fact that the stadium was half empty by mid third quarter, and when I say half empty, it was full of Blue. And as a friend says don’t wear it if it’s not in the checker board. For the second time in a row the Gator faithful enjoyed another Saturday in Knoxville.
Personally I have lost all faith in the Volunteers this season, people can say its early, say look at what happened last year. Sorry, I just won’t do it. Optimism is nice but realism is better. To think that Vol fans are saying, “don’t lose faith, we were right here last year and got to the conference title game,” statement like that absolutely makes me sick. It is everything that is wrong with Tennessee football. It is why you go to Neyland every saturday afternoon we are forced to watch highlights of the nineties and cheer for things over a decade old while we watch title celebrations of Tennessee women’s basketball only months old. Tennessee football is all that “was” and I for one am ready for Tennessee football to be now but, with Phil at the helm this just will not happen.
I was either blessed enough or cursed depending on viewpoint to attend the game this weekend at Neyland Stadium. What is interesting is the Florida offense wasn’t even that impressive, we even out gained their offense in total yards. Two huge errors by Tennessee in this game, I will start with special teams, in particular the coverage teams or should I say lack there of? Phil said pregame this past week, “we certainly know what Brandon James is capable of.” Really Phil? Did you know? Two years in a row now this kid has taken it to the house with ease. Five missed tackles on a 78 yard punt return and Brandon James earns his second of the year, first coming against Miami. And his opening return took the Gators past midfield on the very first play of the game which certainly didn’t bode well for the Volunteers. Returns like that are exactly how Tennessee out gained Florida in total offense and still lost the game.
Next, the offense. All I can say is disgraceful. I don’t understand how you get inside the Gator three yard line two times and come up with no points. The play calling in this game was absolutely terrible. Obvious passing situations we run, obvious running situations we passed. I don’t understand how we had numerous second and shorts at times when the pace of the game needed to change and we didn’t take a shot down field. Instead the offense opted to run the ball unsuccessfully and half the time ended up in a worse spot than on second down. On another note, I was proud to see the G-Gun package get used this week but, until they let Gerald Jones throw the ball it will never be a game changing formation. Montario Hardesty let me down this week with a fumble after a one yard catch. Then any kind of reasonable gain seemed to be taken away due to penalties, false starts, holdings, etc. And when you are 4 out of 11 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth you can’t expect to win a football game.
On to defense, first off I want to say thank you to Eric Berry, no matter what anyone says you can’t say this kid “quit.” He must have given a halftime speech to himself that wasn’t given to the rest of the team, he hit harder, ran faster, and tackled better than anyone on this football team. Overall, I really don’t have a lot of faults for the defense. A couple of penalties didn’t help the effort, but overall they held the Florida offense to only 243 yards total offense. And last years Heisman winner Tebow to under 100 yards passing. Way to go secondary once again. There is no part of this football team I have given credit every week beside Eric Berry and his buddies. Maybe our secondary should put in a mass letter of transfer to somewhere where their efforts can actually be used. Can’t fault the defense for this weeks loss, especially when they only gave up 23 points to the 4th ranked team in the nation.
Now its time to grill, I went to lunch today with my family and Tennessee football obviously came up in our conversation. During lunch our waiter passed and said, “its kind of hard to throw a kid under the bus after three games but, he is looking rough.” To which I replied, “I already ran over him.” Johnathan Crompton is absolutely awful, and it is not just his play for me, the kid is far too confident and has no bearing on the game. This is his third straight game with an interception. And not only a pick, credit him with a fumble as well. Both turnovers inside the Gator three yard line came from this big John. He could be dragging this football team down even more than Phillip Fulmer himself, which is a tough feat. Then you have his brilliant 12 yard rush for at first down which ended with him getting laid out by a Florida linebacker jumping right back up and running his mouth at which point the score was 27 to 0 in favor of the Gators. He has lost all confidence from his offensive teammates, and is clearly not a leader on this football team. Just before the second half began with Tennessee about to receive the kick off Crompton tried to call his offense to a meeting when he was greeted by no one except one player #48 Adam Myers-White who is a linebacker, not even a part of the Tennessee offense. Is the Tennessee faithful aware that Crompton has yet to have an interception on first or second down, he simply forces the ball in situations because he thinks he can make plays that he has no business trying to make.
Next, Arian Foster, wow this kid calls himself a “leader.” That is a complete joke, again he fails to come through in a big game. Foster accounted for only 37 yards of rushing and had a blatant personal foul which showed complete lack of maturity and accounted for 15 yards against the offense. Then not only did he receive a personal foul, after returning to the sideline a Tennessee fan had some choice words for him and rather than ignore it or use the words as fuel he chooses to turn around a return fire like a middle school child. The kid has showed no maturity and a complete lack of leadership on this football team. Maybe Eric Berry should have given his halftime speech to Arian Foster as well because as energized as Berry looked Foster looked equally as flat going out to the second half captains meeting with his hands on his hips, as if to be half asleep.
And last but not least good ole’ Phil. Urban Meyer has had is way with Phil still undefeated against the Orange and White. Again a terrible job of preparation for Phil and his coaching staff. I don’t understand how you come out and kick to the most dangerous return man in college football not once but twice. He is obviously out coached in the SEC and can’t keep up with the competition. Halftime adjustments again were not a factor for the Volunteers seeing as their were none. The team was flat and unmotivated once again. Phil has already stepped up and taken responsibility for the win saying, “That loss is on me, I’m a big boy with broad shoulders. I can handle it.” No….really Phil?
Overall, for me its no longer about routing for wins, now it turns to routing for change whether that is in victory or defeat it does not matter to me. The Volunteers are behind the times in college football and it is showing every week more and more. It is time for change in Knoxville and with extremely tough SEC schedule ahead of us if Vol fans don’t yet agree they will soon enough, mark my words. Next week the Volunteers travel to Auburn to a hostile environment and play against a defense who may be even tougher than that of the Gators. Look for the shut out next week on the road.