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Vols Survive Scare From UAB In Double Overtime, Win 32-29

Commence the 15 minutes of post-game questionable impression-filled mostly incoherent ramblings.

First the good news: we won.

Up until the last play of the game, my plan was to stop there with the good news, but there is actually one more: Denarius Moore may have just become the leader this team was so lacking. As Rx Salt said in the game thread, seeing the team carrying him on their shoulders for winning the game with that awesome catch on the first play for the Vols in the second overtime was as good as the win. Credit Matt Simms, too, for hanging in there and making a perfect pass on the game-winning play after an entire second half of all caps FUTILITY.

Unfortunately, that's about it for the good news. Onto the bad, and we'll start with CornFromAJar's in-game haiku:

What’s 3rd down looking
like at pratcice? Divison
by zero, implode.

This was one of those rare games that was almost more about watching a record than watching the game. The last time I remember that happening for the Vols was when Tee Martin was on his string of pass completions for the NCAA record. This wasn't nearly as fun. (And for the record -- heh, record -- I don't know whether this is actually a record or not, but the announcers were watching it like it was.)

So at one point Tennessee was, on the season, something like 0-31 on third downs with six or more yards needed for the first down. Thus the Divide By Zero haiku by CornfromaJar. Toward the end of regulation, we managed to actually get one to make it one of thirty-something on the season. That's bad bad bad. BAD. For the game, we were 2 of 15 on third downs, and the other one was a two-yard conversion.

So yeah, we stink at third downs. The defense? Not much better, as they allowed UAB to convert 9 of 23 attempts.

That one defect is probably responsible for much of everything else bad that happened, but let's assess the damage:

  • UAB had 544 total yards, 115 on the ground and 429 through the air. Embarrassing.
  • The Blazers had 23 first downs to Tennessee's 15. Pitiful.
  • UAB had five sacks. Tennessee had none. Weak.

If UAB's kicker hadn't missed four -- four! -- ([Note by Joel, 09/25/10 11:46 PM EDT ] Yeah, it was actually five -- five! -- I was wrong -- wrong!) field goals in regulation, Tennessee would not have won this game, and it wouldn't have even been close. I'm half certain that when the animated drive chart sees the xml data of the second half tomorrow morning, it will simply spit out "UGLY."

Post-game, Derek Dooley summed it up best: "We're not very good right now, but we're fighting." It's great that the team kept playing, and it's fantastic that Simms hit Moore in the end zone on a beautiful play to win a game it should have won, but oy, we have work to do, and it's looking like it's going to be a bloody, bloody October unless we can improve in a hurry.

Fifteen minutes are up. Leave your instant post-game reactions here.