We have nothing to lose.
There's no shame in getting beat by the number one team in the nation. Should the Vols get trounced, it won't be the first time it's happened to Derek Dooley and many of these players. But unlike the Oregon game last year, we're not undefeated and still riding offseason idiot optimism. Unlike the Georgia game last year, we don't expect to win. And this isn't Alabama, where a blowout will hurt because of who's giving it to us.
The program has unfortunately fallen to the level that getting blown out will not be a new revelation nor some indictment of the way things are going. Playing without four of our five best players, you can't judge Dooley or the program based on what it does right now. Tennessee was already a fundamentally different offense without Justin Hunter; now that's multiplied without Tyler Bray. And I would argue the Vols are a fundamentally different defense without Janzen Jackson. Throw in Herman Lathers' departure, and you've got a fundamentally different football team than the one we thought we would have.
This football team? It has nothing to lose.
I'm coming to Neyland Stadium in a curious mood. Curious to see if we can run for positive yardage (this is like 33% joke). Curious to see what Matt Simms can do. Curious to see how much we can truly rely on our defense to carry us.
But curiosity won't kill these cats. These aren't wildcats in name only, like our neighbors to the north. These are Tigers; Dooley said earlier this week, in reference to the play of his freshmen linebackers, "They're about to have 60 plays of getting their manhood tested." That's LSU. And Tennessee's manhood was always going to skew a little young this year, with or without Tyler Bray.
So it's not fair to Matt Simms to play the revenge card in this game, and it's not fair to play the shock the world card for the entire team and honestly expect something magical to happen on Saturday. That's the thing about shocking the world - when it really happens, you never see it coming.
This team needs our support no matter what happens on Saturday. Come early, be loud, have fun. We might learn something about this team going forward. We might see the best team in college football. And we might see something that surprises us.
I'm curious to find out. A day is coming when that can't be the dominant emotion we take to Neyland Stadium. But for now, it'll do just fine.
We have nothing to lose. Go Vols.