Post-game awards: Tennessee Volunteers v. Auburn Tigers

Best diversion. Watching the Phillip Fulmer Show (yeah, I know), the highlight they used to promote the Perfection National Championship DVD was that play against Auburn when somebody clobbered the QB as he was trying to complete a shovel pass. Recall that Shaun Ellis picked it out of the air and lumbered something like 80 yards to the other end zone. The video alone is grand, but John Ward's call is priceless: "It's picked up by Tennessee, and the Volunteers have Shaun Ellis running with the football down the left side looking for blocking. This'll be Shaun Ellis still running, struggling, to the 25, to the 20, to the 15, to the 10, to the 5 . . . he made it. He made it."

Best wow, I wish we could have been watching that game again. Same 1998 game, more highlights. Jamal Lewis from the first play at scrimmage (can that be right?), TD up the middle for an almost instant 13-0 lead. Later in the same game came the four consecutive goal lines stops. Wow, what a game that was.

Best close call. On Tennessee's first punt, Auburn rushers all tried to dive over the Vols' three-man punt protection wedge rather than trying to ram their way through it. They almost blocked it. For some reason, it does not appear that they ever tried the same tactic again.

Best hustle. On Auburn's first drive, they tried a pass off a reverse, but Chris Walker tackled the would-be passer when the guy couldn't find anyone open. I say "couldn't find" because if I recall from the original telecast, somebody was open, but there was enough pressure that the guy didn't have time.

Worst headgear. What's with the helmets flying off during the game? Must have been ten of 'em.

Best idea that didn't work. Reverse to Gerald Jones, which resulted in a tackle for a loss. Huh. Would've thought that would've worked. Upon further review, it would have worked if it had been blocked. Who knew?

Best play for the QB. Draw play. Jonathan Crompton had one good QB draw late in the first quarter and another for a first down on 3rd and 14. On the second, it saved the drive that ended with a touchdown.

Best run. Montario Hardesty, following his blockers into the linebacker zone, spinning away from the LB waiting for him, and gaining another ten yards stumbling forward, dragging two tacklers with him.

Offensive play of the game, I. The first G-Gun. Jones took the snap, darted through the line and the 'backer zone before you knew it and eluded one tackle in the secondary before going down.

Best where have you been lately? Crompton to Austin Rogers on a quick slant. Where's Austin been? I don't know. Does it matter? I don't know.

Worst sequel. It's like Halloween, Part XIII. You know the plotline: Crompton and Arian Foster botch the handoff in the danger zone. Villain recovers in the end zone for a TD and murders all hope. It never gets new. By the way, Fulmer thinks it was Foster's fault. "I don't think Arian got his arm up. I don't know if he was looking at the defense or whatever, but that's unacceptable. It's just not good." Is it really unacceptable? We'll find out.

Worst tackling. With five minutes left in the half, Auburn's running QB scrambled around in the pocket, shedding arm tackles by our rushers, and eventually completed a pass for a first down something like 1:45 seconds after the ball was snapped.

Best move. Ben Martin's swim move to get around the blocker and to the QB. Nice sack, too, wrapping the guy up with both huge arms.

Best foot. Chad Cunningham's, which appendage put punt after punt after punt in the second half inside the ten yard line.

Best recovery. Gerald Williams, who made a fine tackle right after making a really unfine late hit on the QB penalty.

Defensive play of the game. Dennis Rogan's interception and 38-yard return late in the 3rd quarter as Auburn was engaged in its only real drive of the half.

Best what, is he still running? Who else but Jones? Stymied out of the G-Gun to the left, Jones simply headed the other direction, dodging would-be tacklers and tight-roping the opposite sideline for a nice gain.

Offensive play of the game, II. Montario Hardesty on Foster's Favorite Play (I think). Hardesty barely made the corner, and I'm not sure if we get that TD right there without him. Nice call.

Biggest turning point. Tennessee went for two after Hardesty's TD in an attempt to tie the game. A called pass to essentially the line of scrimmage was sniffed out by the defense, and they tackled the receiver there. Fulmer said that that was the play they wanted, but that "you gotta read it out, and we want the ball thrown into the end zone." Upon further review, it appears that Stocker (I think it was him) was in front of his guy in the end zone. Last week throwing to him in that position, though, resulted in good defensive plays, hands reaching in and knocking the ball down, so who knows?

Special teams play of the game. Who else but Jones, who had a really nice 40-yard punt return early in the 4th quarter.

Player of the game. Chad Cunningham. Yeah, the punter. He did have a fantastic game, and together with the defense, gave the team a real opportunity to win the contest.

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