Tennessee almost survived six turnovers, but the seventh did them in on the first play of the Vols’ possession in double overtime. That sentence is as exhausted as all of us are.
Congrats to the Aggies on the win. Congrats to the Vols for doing the things this team does: refusing to quit, finding a way to extend the game, coming back from another 21-point deficit. And Tennessee did it without Dylan Wiesman for most of the game, then did it without Danny O’Brien (who does have movement in all extremities after being carted off the field) and Cortez McDowell. On Texas A&M’s quick drive to attempt a field goal at the end of regulation they went right at Elliott Berry, who was behind Quart’e Sapp, Cortez McDowell, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin on the depth chart at kickoff of the Ohio game. And as we all know, JRM is one of four of Tennessee’s six best players who is out for extended time.
And Tennessee shouldn’t have needed that paragraph, because the next men up erupted for 675 yards in regulation and forced 10 A&M punts. Josh Dobbs was 28 of 47 for 398 yards, 8.5 yards per attempt. Tennessee ran the ball 51 times for 282 yards. And Alvin Kamara, good grief: 18 carries for 127 yards, 8 catches for 161 yards, three touchdowns.
But the Vols also fumbled it away five times and had a bobbled ball interception in regulation before Josh Dobbs threw the game-ending interception in double overtime. The hole was deep enough for Tennessee to need a miraculous punch-out from Malik Foreman as A&M was going in for what should have been the icing on the cake with less than two minutes to play. But instead of a 14-point Aggie lead, Trayveon Williams’ fumble through the end zone gave the Vols the ball on a touchback.
Tennessee answered with a six-play 80-yard drive to tie the game, then survived a missed 38-yard field goal which left us with overtime. And after trading field goals in the first session, an A&M score led to the Dobbs pick to end this madness.
So we leave this thing feeling better overall about this team given the performance we saw from the offense and the resiliency from the defense. And we leave a game down in the standings with a school record seven turnovers. The Vols had six in the 1952 Sugar Bowl against Maryland and the 1997 SEC Championship Game; the former was awarded the national title before the game, and the latter won in Atlanta anyway. Being a great team doesn’t automatically cure you of fumbleitis, though the Vols have the worst case in the country.
The questions about the greatness of this team now get Alabama for more answers. The Vols are still in the SEC East lead at the moment, and history suggests will be just fine no matter what happens next week.
This was an exhausting day for an exhausting team. No sleep til Bama.