Commence the 15 minutes of immediate post game ramblings.
Pants. It's just pants.
Tennessee had won the SEC East last season, but many fans believed they'd won it mostly by default. Then David Cutcliffe, who'd sort of turned things around and gotten things headed in the right direction after the Randy Sanders Experiment, was off to Duke, and he took most of his offensive staff with him. Trooper Taylor then rode off into the sunset to Oklahoma State. Phillip Fulmer searched for and hired Dave Clawson, who was rumored to have some mysterious west coast-ish, spread-y type secret offense with innovative features like shifting linemen and playmakers in space. The present was covered in opaque, shiny foil wrap with a giant orange bow on it. The card read, "TO: Vol Fans, FROM: Coaches Fulmer and Clawson, P.S. Don't open until September 1st." We were drawn to the gift. When we picked it up and shook it, it made a glorious noise, but it didn't offer any clue as to what was inside. Surely, it was something wonderful. Something worthy of a nickname. Fresh. New. Exciting.
It was pants. Another pair of pants. Same thing we got last year.
Tonight's game against UCLA was most decidedly not good. The Bruins had apparently resorted to LinkedIn to find a QB who had transferred from a really bad team via community college. They had lost several non-QB key players prior to the game. They lost several more during the first half. The aforementioned QB threw four, four, interceptions in the first half.
But after the half, Kevin Craft, that QB I was talking about up there, well, he got new and exciting. Our defense went soft. Jonathan Crompton kept overthrowing receivers. Our running game was stagnant, and our senior-laden, experienced offensive line couldn't push anybody around or give the quarterback time to throw to the ball. Sure, when the Bruins scored the go-ahead touchdown, we did a good job on offense getting into field goal position, and Daniel Lincoln did a good job sending the ball through the uprights and the game into overtime.
But . . . Crompton was neither as bad or as good as was Craft. Lincoln missed a couple of field goals early and the game-loser late. Our offense couldn't capitalize on the turnovers created by our defense. Our defense couldn't adjust to Norm Chow's offensive adjustments.
We lost. The first game of the season. The second year in a row.
But remember this. We finished the season in in the SEC Championship Game last year (never mind the bowl game). The National Champion had two losses. This was not an SEC game, and in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter a whole lot. The Cal game last year at this time was more troublesome not because of the loss, but because of what the loss revealed. This team, at least early in the game for the defense and late for the offense, can still be special, and I don't really ever remember seeing much of that potential last year. The pieces are there. The coaches just need to figure out how they fit together. Give them time. There is a time to discuss potential coaching changes, but immediately after one out of conference loss is not that time. Don't even get me started on the possibility of toying with a backup QB. Crompton is our guy, and he'll be fine. It was his first real game as the leader of this team. If start to think that there's no way we can beat Florida or Georgia based on what we saw tonight, think of the Georgia and Arkansas games last year. You just never know. Don't deprive yourself of the enjoyment of the season by reacting to negative outcomes that haven't even happened. There will be plenty of time for that if and when they occur.
But yeah. Really disappointed in the pants. Think we can make something out of the material?