This morning after church someone asked me to describe yesterday's game in one word. I chose "inferno". It describes the large and dangerous fire that is Oregon's offense, and it also describes the place the Vols should deposit the game film.
What is there to learn from a 45 point disaster, the most lopsided defeat of the modern era, against the number two team in the nation?
Here's my hope: Oregon presents not only the most significant (non-Alabama division) but also the most unique challenge of the season. Many of us before the game thought victory was actually less likely against the Ducks than the Tide for this reason. So when, after a brief period of hope, Oregon's offense unleashed every bit of the hell we thought they'd bring to the table, how strong should our reaction be?
A fourth of the way through the regular season, I still feel like we have very little actual information on this team. We've played an FCS opponent, a team that turned it over four times in four plays for the first time in the history of college football, and a team that gave us our worst beating since 1910. What can this team do in a normal game?
Same as last week, here's the truth we're trying to see in the ashes of the film:
The Run Game: Fine, but fine won't cut it
Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane combined for 105 yards on 25 carries, 4.2 per. That's okay, especially considering we're playing the number two team in the country, but because the number two team in the country was Oregon, not being better on the ground put the Vols in down-and-distance situations that were just a little more than what we wanted. How did Oregon put up 59 points? In part because we kept putting them back on the field. Consider the following sequence of events late in the first quarter and early in the second when the game was still competitive:
VOLS LEAD 7-3
- Rajion Neal run 2 yds
- Rajion Neal run 4 yds
- Justin Worley incomplete, punt
- Oregon TD
- Justin Worley 4 yd pass to Rajion Neal
- Marlin Lane run 1 yd
- Marlin Lane run 4 yds (the close spot), punt
- Oregon TD
Reporter: What is your team's offensive identity? Butch: "You tell me."— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) September 15, 2013