1. I believe SMQ to be perhaps the most astute blogger in our sport's 'sphere, so I was all the more disappointed reading this:
Tennessee 27, South Carolina 24: I don't care who wins, but endings like this one almost make me sick for the utter randomness of it all. It's one thing to lose a game in which you outgain your opponent by 200 yards, hold the ball for almost an entire quarter longer and earn twice as many first downs - Carolina did, after all, turn the ball over four times, and that's what happens to a team that turns the ball over four times no matter what other good it does. But to lose because one of your opponent's linemen flinched before its kicker badly missed a field goal in overtime and nobody happened to break any rules when your kicker missed...that's the kind of ending that would drive me insane if I was Steve Spurrier. I'd so much rather be beaten by 40 points and know my team was soundly whipped than earn an unmitigated 'L' on the timing of yellow hankies.
Emphasis mine, because that's what bothered me so. Besides the fact that the kick in question was at the end of regulation and not overtime, I understand that Tennessee on many levels -- especially statistically -- should
have lost this game. But it's silly to pinpoint that moment as the crux of the game and not the fact that Mitchell had a wide-open receiver on his last possession of regulation and overthrew him (when another first down essentially ends the game), or Carolina's crappy kick coverage after Succop's field goal, or the wacky bounces the ball took when Tennessee tried to fumble the game away, or the possibility that Steve Spurrier might have called the worst game of his life in that first half, or even that if either team had shown up and played a whole game instead of just a half, it could have been a blowout either way.
The Bynum kid from Auburn was lauded after the Florida game for his ability to make a kick when timeout had been called, then line up and make the kick again. That was different. He was kicking on the road, ostensibly couldn't hear what was going on, and went through with the first kick as though it were a live play.
Lincoln says that he didn't hit the first kick as he normally would because the whistle blew. That's likely, he is kicking in his home stadium and much more likely to hear the whistle. I seriously doubt that the snap, hold, and kick were in earnest the first time through.
Carolina blog The Cool Chicken has a post with a lament similar to SMQ's:
3.) With little time on the clock, UT kicks a field goal which they miss badly. Wait! UT was called for a false start and they got a second shot at kicking the ball and of course, they make it this time.
TCC's post actually implies the officials were making calls to help UT throughout the game. That's ludicrous. The truth is that on some nights, that funny-shaped ball takes bounces in way that help you, and some nights it doesn't. Saturday was our night.
That, and the fact that Carolina's quarterbacks are terrible, and even though Tennessee's defense tried to make Blake Mitchell look all-conference, he still stunk enough to hurt his team.
There's lots of reasons for Spurrier or any Gamecock to be upset about the way the game ended up, but Lincoln's tying field goal isn't one.
2. In this space on Friday, I said
I just hope we win. I don't care how, just get it done.
But beating Spurrier by about 20 sure would be nice. Just sayin'.
Oh, how the fates do tease. At the break, of course, we were beating Spurrier by 20. And it sure was nice. But in the end, I'm still feeling that first statement, I don't care how it happened. That game was a microcosm of Tennessee this season. The Vols can be as good as that first half looked and as bad as the second looked. They'll need more of the first-half effort if they want to keep this thing going into Atlanta, and all three of the conference games left are very loseable -- yes, that includes Vanderbilt. But considering what the outlook was after the Florida game (or after the Bama game for that matter), it's nice to see Tennessee will be playing meaningful games in November.
3. As for my other predict, er, wishes,
I hope that if something works on offense, we keep doing it, and don't inexplicably trash it for things that don't work -- Not a whole lot worked on offense, mostly because Carolina's defense is a beast. As usual, I would have like to have seen more patience with the running game, and maybe a little more aggression with the passing game. It seemed like we didn't really try to step on Carolina's throat when we had the lead. But again, chalk it up to SC's defense.
I hope we can adjust to whatever Spurrier is doing successfully -- Once again, lack of adjustments nearly got us beat. I'm disappointed in the coaching staff's inability to anticipate the opposition's next move. This team is great at checkers, but terrible at chess. Whatever that means.
I hope we don't run a reverse -- Thanks, fellas. During Carolina's rally, I was just thinking how a crappy reverse play would make the whole dang mess all that much worse. Thank you for sparing us.