The Big Orange nation is in a frenzy after last night's 41-31 loss at Mississippi State which dropped the Vols to 3-3, 0-3 in Conference Play.
At this point, I'm making a ground breaking, earth shattering declaration "We need a break."
Three plays stand out to me about the Mississippi State loss. One: the not-so-onside kick recovered by the Bulldogs, Byron Moore's dropped interception in the 4th quarter, and Devrin Young's costly fumble in the final frame.
The Vols made numerous plays throughout the contest, and I enjoyed watching Cordarrelle Patterson zig and zag through the MSU kickoff coverage, CP pluck a touchdown pass out of the air, and Tyler Bray loft a beautiful pass to the outstretched arms of Ben Bartholomew for a late TD.
However, the three misses loom larger in my mind. Maybe I would feel differently if UT would have emerged victorious from Davis Wade Stadium. Maybe I would feel differently if this defeat didn't drop the Vols to 0-3 in SEC contests.
Maybe the reason they stand out is because miscues such as these continue to be the difference between wins and losses. It is reasonable, in my opinion, if Tennessee had not been so mistake prone in the 4th quarter this season, they would likely stand at 5-1, 2-1 on the year.
A few summers ago- the time of year when the slightest sign of college football is as refreshing as seeing a fountain in the desert, I landed on the Fox SportsSouth network. They were airing a "College Flash Classic" featuring the 2001 South Carolina and Alabama matchup.
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, I'll describe the "College Flash Classic" format using another entertainment analogy. The CFC game inevitably features a Jefferson Pilot game with the full compliment of Dave's calling the action (Dave Neal and Dave Rowe in the booth with Dave Baker on the sideline).
The re air features their original broadcast supplemented with interviews from game participants a la Vh1's Pop Up video format from the late 90s. If you thought the JP game couldn't get any better, you were wrong my friend. This is a nostalgic SEC fan's nirvana.
Before I get so off topic I make another Hulk Hogan reference, allow me to get this train back on the tracks...
Coach Lou Holtz, who took over the SC job in 1999, inherited a mess. The program went 1-10 in 98. Things didn't get much better during Holtz's inaugural campaign in Columbia as the Gamecocks went 0-11 in 99.
The '01 SC/Bama game was a back and forth affair eventually won 37-36 by the Gamecocks who were led by senior quarterback Phil Petty. At one point in the CFC broadcast, Petty appeared in a split screen with an interview. During the spot, he said something I'll never forget.
He said during pivotal moments, Holtz-pacing the sidelines- would proclaim "We're about to get a break here. Something good is going to go our way." These words appeared to resonate with the team because they went 8-4 in 2000 and followed that up with a 9-3 mark in 2001 including two bowl wins over Ohio State over that stretch.
In 2001, the Gamecocks won 5 games that were decided by a 7 points or less. In short, they were terrific in close games. The 2012 Volunteers have yet to demonstrate such prowess.
I'm beginning to wonder if rumblings of "Here we go again" aren't appearing on the sidelines and maybe even the press box these days. The margin for error in the SEC these days is razor thin. Under said circumstances, mistakes- especially late mistakes- go under a microscope.
Last night, Byron Moore and Devrin Young (despite giving great effort) came up short. Tennessee came up short. Two weeks prior, Tyler Bray and the Vols came up short during a late rally between the hedges in Athens.
Eleven years ago, Tennessee featured a star defensive lineman named Albert Haynesworth from Hartsville, South Carolina. The times have changed. Now, the best NFL defensive line prospect from the Palmetto state attends South Carolina. His name is Jadeveon Clowney.
It's not a stretch to say that we lack the talent from those glory days making it even more imperative that we make big plays to win close games.
Facing the prospects of going 0-for-October with Alabama and South Carolina representing the next two foes on the schedule, it's very easy for me to say that "We need a break."no comments