Which means it’s once again time to slap on an orange speedo and swan dive into the Tennessee Volunteers-related thoughts sloshing around inside my brain.
1) Well, that was certainly a great time to bounce back. I thought the Vols would have a little bit of trouble with the Roadrunners, but in reality - outside of the third quarter - it was smooth sailing for UT on both sides of the ball. Nice to see that kind of ability going into conference play.
2) Speaking of seeing, I’ve been wanting to see Joe Milton run with the football more this year. The first play is Exhibit A of why I’ve been wanting to see that. He’s still not quite as shifty of a runner as Hooker in the open field, but if he can get a head of steam and has space, look out.
3) And for the crowd claiming Dylan Sampson would have made a difference in Gainesville (I have actually read such things after Saturday): S.T.O.P. It absolutely would not have made a difference. Sampson is a bad, bad dude and deserved work in Gainesville, but the problem was the guys around the ball and not as much the ones with the ball in their hands. (Well, unless that person’s name is Trevor Etienne, then yes, the problem was the guy with the ball in his hands.) Tennessee didn’t block worth a darn, didn’t tackle worth a darn, didn’t play with nearly enough discipline and focus, and...well...didn’t give as much of a darn about playing hard, smart, and tough as the team in blue. That’s why they lost. And Jaylen Wright has been balling lately, so it was justified that he led the backfield.
4) Tyler Baron is an absolute dawg. A team-leading 4 sacks through 4 games and has looked continuously disruptive. Tennessee has a good one developing there off the edge.
5) I was at the South Carolina game last year. I was so excited to see a potential Tennessee college football playoff team in action. And man, that loss was a swift kick in the groin.
Heupel acted like this is just another week when talking about the game today, but it’s not. Not to us, the fans. And, if the players have a shred of pride, it’s probably not to them either. This honestly had better not be just another game. This had better have been a game that’s been circled on the calendar since last November.
Neyland will be absolutely electric. Can the team match the same intensity that the fans are 100% certain to provide?
6) Because, according to Heupel today at his press conference, the competitive edge that the Vols must have and maintain is a very thin margin. Losing it is why UT let UTSA rally in the third quarter, and that’s a big reason why they put forth the performance they did in Gainesville.
There was no problem in that department last year, absent a trip to Columbia. Tennessee needs a find a way to stay within at that level for 60 minutes starting Saturday night and for every game thereafter.