Tennessee Volunteers v. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: immediate post-game ramblings

Well, maybe not so immediate, as I had to drive home to Johnson City first, but here we go: commence the 15-minute nearly immediate post-game mostly incoherent and questionable-impression-filled ramblings. No fact-checking or grammar police allowed.

Tennessee thumped the Hilltoppers 63-7 and were within two yards on the last play of making it 70 to finish the game. Lane Kiffin said on the post-game radio show that the seven points the defense gave up came when they took both Nick Reveiz and Eric Berry out of the lineup. In any event, it was a dominating performance, and yes, you have to account for the fact that Western Kentucky just played its very first game as a full-fledged FBS team, but still.

The pre-game routine was shaken up a bit, I believe. The Pride of the Southland Marching Band formed the word "VOLS" before getting into the USA and the Power T, and I don't remember that being part of the show before. Am I right about that, band dudes?

Not that many would notice. I was struck by how many folks don't show up for the pre-game show, which is a real shame. The student section was almost entirely empty until about ten minutes before kickoff, which falls somewhere in the middle of the show. The rest of the stadium, too, was dotted with orange instead of blanketed with it. Once kickoff came, the seats were filled, but why wouldn't you want to see the hype?

Yeah, they played the Eric Berry for Heisman .com video, but no one really reacted to it either way, and it was before things really got underway, so it didn't distract from the game or anything else. One addition to the pre-game that I thought was fantastic was an actual cool video with energetic music (difficult to make it out in the top sections) and video of the players. I liked that addition a lot, actually.

Then, instead of running through the T as soon as it opened, the team stayed mostly in the tunnel after it opened, and you could see Orgeron and a couple of other people leading the team in the chant we've seen a couple of times in a couple of different places. WAR TIME! LET'S TAKE IT OUTSIDE! WAR TIME! LET'S TAKE IT OUTSIDE! They did that for awhile while everyone waited and then finally ran through the T. The extra anticipation was great, I thought, and I look forward to the day when the crowd figures out how to bounce up and down and follow them in the alternating cheer.

And yeah, the JumboTron was fantastic. Clear, big. Useful. Except that it was extremely slow in showing replays, sometimes not starting them in time for them to finish before the next play started, and sometimes not showing them at all despite a splash screen promising it was coming.

The game? The game was fantastic. I know it was only WKU, but I liked it. I know that Jonathan Crompton threw an early interception (and another one later), that Nu'Keese Richardson muffed a punt early, and that Montario Hardesty (I think) fumbled early, but despite those facts and the fact that the first quarter ended in a scoreless tie, the mistakes never seemed inevitable, and the trend never felt like it was going to permanent. The team was moving the ball, and the defense was shutting the opponent out.

And then, the offense scored 63 points in the last three quarters and almost added another. Four different backs racked up yards, points, and touchdowns, and several different receivers were involved in the passing game. Credit the offensive line because there's no way all four backs rip off huge chunks of yards at a time without them doing their job well. Jonathan Crompton did throw one other interception and drop (but recover) a shotgun snap, but the radio guys were saying he finished 21 of 28 with five touchdowns, which is quite noteworthy because he threw a total of four TDs all of last season. Marsalis Teague had a fantastic game catching the ball and, today anyway, seemed like the go-to receiver.

And the defense -- whoa. The entire team seemed extraordinarily active in WKU's backfield. I don't know how many sacks we had, but it seemed like a lot. And a lot of zero to negative yardage plays to boot. There was also an interception by Brent Vinson. And like I said above, the only touchdown apparently came when the coaching staff took both Reveiz and Berry out of the lineup.

Time's almost up. I'll have another, un-timed post-game recap tomorrow after I have a chance to re-watch the game on TV and have a look at the stats, but the bottom line is that this was an impressive performance for the team and a sight for skeptical eyes, even considering the opponent. It should give the team confidence and the fan base some optimism going into next week's game against UCLA.

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