First this, because it's awesome:
Now for bland.
Tennessee fans had been told all week that the Orange and White Game was going to be "just like a real game," except without live punt returns and with a wacky scoring system designed to reward the defense for success that usually goes unmeasured in real games.
Um, not exactly. Not unless Lane Kiffin's going to be permitted in the huddle and the officials throw flags for blitzes. I was much more concerned about Kiffin's huddle-presence than was hooper, who rightly guessed that it was only because they hadn't installed hand signals yet. If Kiffin was only there to tell the QB the play and then get out of the way, then okay. But it appeared that he was also coaching while he was in there, including instructing players where to line up.
I really like the instant feedback aspect of this. Rather than waiting to see the video and having a meeting with the players, telling them right then and right there what was good, what was bad, and why is a great thing. But it's certainly not like a game. Hopefully, the hand-holding will be the first thing that goes in the fall.
On the other hand, Kiffin appeared to be highly-focused on maintaining the element of surprise. He said he only showed about 20% of the offense and didn't allow the defense to use Eric Berry or to really show anything other than a basic front. So they might be further along with their hand signals than they're letting on, and they just didn't want video of them this early.
So yeah, it was a lot like vanilla with vanilla swirl with no fixin's in a kiddie cup, but it sure did taste better ($) than that fancy stuff we had last year, huh? Jonathan Crompton played mostly against the 1st team defense and went 14-27 for 143 yards, a 16-yard TD, and one interception, which Kiffin says was not his fault ($). B.J. Coleman played mostly against the second team defense but went 13-22 for 160 yards, three TDs (one of which was called back due to a delay of game penalty), and no turnovers. The best receivers of the day were Quintin Hancock and Brandon Warren. Hancock caught eight passes for 96 yards and a TD, and Warren caught four passes for 50 yards and two TDs.
But the best news of all is that the running game looked great. Montario Hardesty, Tauren Poole, and Toney Williams together rushed for 201 yards on 42 carries for a 4.8 yard average.
There were a lot of positives (and some negatives) to take away from the Orange and White Game, but contrary to what we thought we were going to see, it wasn't really just like a game, so we can't be too quick to conclude much of anything from it.