I was in Knoxville over the weekend and considered going to campus to try and get a ticket to Saturday’s football game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Since the game was such a late start (7:45 pm EST) and it was rather chilly, I decided to just watch it on ESPN. Considering the 29-9 thrashing Alabama handed the Vols, I’m glad I didn’t waste my money.
Once again the Tennessee offense was virtually non-existent. They managed only 173 total yards, of which only 36 were on the ground. QB Nick Stephens went 16-of-28 for 137 yards and the only Vols TD of the game. That TD, however, was really a gift from Alabama. They were flagged twice for pass interference on that Tennessee drive. Take those 30 yards away, and the Vols offense would not have been in the end zone. The backs were really a non-factor in this contest. Arian Foster had 6 carries for 21 (of the 36 total) yards. Montario Hardesty carried 8 times for only 12 yards. The only receiver that stood out was Josh Briscoe, who had 4 grabs for 46 yards and a TD.
Tennessee’s defense once again played outstanding football, especially in the first half. The kept pressure on Tide QB John Parker Wilson and had a blocked field goal. The defense definitely gave Tennessee plenty of opportunities to get back in the game. Unfortunately, the offense could not get anything going, and the defense was on the field far too long. By the 4th quarter they were just exhausted.
Add to Tennessee’s woes poor kicking and numerous penalties at key moments. Kicker Daniel Lincoln missed field goals from 51 and 43 yards, and the Vols were penalized 7 times for 60 yards. At one point, Tennessee had possession on the Alabama 14, but consecutive penalties for illegal formation and pass interference pushed them back 20 yards. The result was a field goal attempt, which Lincoln missed from 43 yards.
So, Tennessee falls to 3-5 (1-4 in the SEC) for the season, and they still have some tough games ahead. Next week they travel to Columbia to take on South Carolina. The Gamecocks go into the game with a 5-3 record. This will be a tough challenge for the Vols considering their struggles on offense. I’m sure “the old ball coach” will be ready for Tennessee, and I fear another loss may be looming on the horizon. I hope I am wrong and the Vols can rebound and win out the rest of the season.