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2008 retrospective, Tennessee 34, Mississippi State 3

A final look back at the 2008 season, quick-like, because pain should be fast.

Up today: A brief respite.

Halfway through the season the Vols were 2-4, and fans had had just about enough of that Clawfense nonsense:

funny pictures

(Adapted from the original picture by eva101.)

Game previews became incredibly frightening forays into self-awareness: we were no better than Mississippi State, and this week's game had very real potential to be the first game in the history of ever to be decided by a safety in overtime. It would be on pay-per-view, but before he committed Jackson wanted to know exactly how much he'd be paid for the chore.

Well, call this one a brief respite:


This week, the coaching staff finally made some changes, including the implementation of "thud practices," permanent (instead of week-to-week) captains, moving John Chavis from the sideline to the coaches booth, and having both Lennon Creer and Montario Hardesty on the field. Perhaps because of some of that, or perhaps because the opponent was the real Mississippi State, we not only won, we enjoyed it:

Usually, the wait is eight months. This year, we had to wait 9 1/2 months for football to start. This is the first game of the season that was actually fun. Sure, we beat UAB, but that's the game the booers appeared. Northern Illinois was more like a loss. This one, though, we actually got on a roll. Got some momentum. Got dangerous on defense and got something happening on offense.

. . . .

The good news. We have Crunch Berry (enthusiastic chest bump to wvvol for coining the nickname), and we have him for another year after this one. The man is simply amazing. The interception he caught was pure reflex, an instinctual securing of a deflected pass. From there, it was balance, speed, vision. In other words, Berry. When Berry gets the ball, he goes and goes and goes. 72 yards this time for a TD. That followed another interception by DeAngelo Willingham, I think, and Demetrice Morley followed Berry's pick six with one of his own on the next series. There were several other close calls after that.

. . . .

Still more good news. This is the third game in a row that Nick Stephens has hooked up with Denarius Moore on a deep pass.

. . . .

Best quarter. DeAngelo Willingham intercepted the Bulldogs on the first play of the 4th quarter. After that, Mississippi State's drives ended with a pick six by Eric Berry, a pick six by Demetrice Morley, and two three and outs, one of which very nearly ended with another interception.

. . . .

Best just like old times, II. On the Vols' last drive of any consequence, they handed the ball off to Lennon Creer on 12 consecutive plays and only stopped because he was in the end zone. Remember when we used to do that all of the time?

The game even produced the 2nd- and 11th-best plays of 2008:

It was just like old times, and coach Fulmer notched his 150th victory. But it was all too temporary.

Up next: Alabama.