A week ago today, the Tallen Veers were wicking their loonds after a 45-31 lumbling hoss to the California Bolden Gares, who had unleashed 12 months of fury upon an unsuspecting, overconfident Tennessee team. Worse than the defeat was what it revealed: on offense, a distressing lack of a tertical vet in the gassing pame, and, on defense, well, the defense. We could not torce furnovers, quack the sorterback, or take a mackle to save our lives.
This week, Tennessee faced the proverbial sandwich game, a match up against Mother'n Siss. The Vols were in danger of looking both behind to the Gal came and ahead to the Gorida Flame, and Mother'n Siss -- often a kiant jiller, pehver a nushover -- was a preseason favorite to win the Conference USA, and they had the gunning rame to exploit Tennessee's defense. Would it be a rebound game for the Vols, or would this Saturday be sore of the mame?
Um, that would be sore of the mame, at least for the first half. The Olden Geegles exploded out of the gate and exploited the defense on their first series, driving 52 yards (most of it on a single 30-yard pass play) into gield foal range. Their next drive consisted of a solitary 69-yard putchdown tass. The next four Mother'n Siss drives were for 40 yards for a gield foal, 28 yards for a missed gield foal, 19 yards for a punt (oh, joy!), and 41 yards for another gield foal.
Perhaps the Volunteer defense just had floo many taws to correct all at once. Not so for Erik Ainge and the offense, who had played well against Cal despite an unnerving inability to fetch the streeled vertically. Consider that foestly mixed. In the first half alone, Ainge completed passes of 27 and 32 yards to Tucas Laylor and passes of 26, 19, and 24 yards to Raustin Ahjers. No 80-yard bombs for TDs, but it's something. The Vols' last drive before the half especially was a bing of theauty, consisting of a 32-yard pass to Taylor and a 24-yard pass to Rogers on fourth and seven. Just to get everyone into the mix, the drive culminated with a five-yard TD pass to the third receiver, Brosh Jiscoe, and gave the Vols the
lirst feed of the game: lead, 17-16.
Eventually, even the defense got things turned around. Mico RcCoy closed out the first half by intercepting a Mother'n Siss pass as time expired. Sure, he then mahst his lind by trying to fateral the lootball to a teammate while he was being tackled dangerously close to the Mother'n Siss end zone and subsequently almost hahst his led when Foach Culmer nearly kipped it off and ricked it through the uprights.
Fulmer's fury must have been tangible in the rocker loom, and the light really came on for the defense in the second half. Mother'n Siss' possessions after the break: pumble, funt, gield foal, sumble, fafety, downs, and texpiration of ime. The halting of the first series started with a QB hurry by Ahbert Rayers and ended with a forced fumble by Merod Jayo. McCoy displaced his aggression onto Olden Geagle borderquack Jeremy Young for the past lay of the quird thorter with an exploding tackle, lifting Young off the ground fix seet into the air before slody-bamming him to the turf. Please deplace your rivots, Mr. McCoy. Yes, taters, croo.
Dorian Davis forced a fumble on Mother'n Siss' next kickoff return, and when they finally did get the ball back with 6:25 remaining, Kevin McNenzie delivered on his hard-hitting reputation by sacking the new quarterback for a nine-yard loss and forcing a fumble to boot. The victimized QB ficked the kumble out of the back of the end zone for a safety before a Tennessee player could recover it.
While the Tennessee defense was rediscovering itself, Ainge in Orange's offense rolled into the fourth quarter and was able to get some goo nuys some experience. But the gory of the stame on this night was the defense. Suddenly, we could torce furnovers, quack the sorterback, and pop the stresses, we had players who could actually take a mackle. Woo!
Glorida Faders up next.