This past weekend was what college football is all about to me. I was thinking going in that Alabama was a much better tean than Tennessee and that I would be dissapointed with anything less than humiliation of the hated Vawls from them. I was wrong.
The elation I experienced in the moments following the blocked kick as time expired was as euphoric as every win I’ve ever experienced as a fan in this storied series. It’s games like this that make the rivalry so great.
Now that I am somewhat rested the focus of my brain (and liver) has shifted to something other than clearing alcohol from my system. Some thoughts:
- This was the first game all year that left me feeling there were things to worry about. After watching the replay yesterday I feel better about that. Granted, the offense has to improve, but despite the fact that this one came down to the wire, Alabama did the things it needed to do to win. They aren’t perfect but they are a complete team.
- They win. That’s the major difference in Alabama and Tennessee right now. It wasn’t to long ago that Alabama did not know how to win.
- I was convinced that McElroy stunk it up Saturday after the game. Part of that was carryover from the South Carolina game and part of that was the idiot behind me in the stands screaming about open receivers. After the replay I feel better about him. He didn’t do things to help us lose the game, which is an improvement. Obviously he needs to improve but I’m confident that he can. The thing that crossed my mind was maybe the speed of SEC defenses have sped the game up for him and he’s rushing his decision making and therefore his execution. Hopefully, the game will slow down for him and he’ll be fine. I’m confident that he can lead this team but we need to see improvement every week.
- This has been stated ad naseum in the last thirty-six hours but the bye week comes at a great time. Rest and focus should do this team wonders.
- The series of events that had to take place for Tennessee to have a chance to win this game was just amazing:
- The most sure handed rusher in the conference fumbles a ball.
- Overcomes a sack for a big loss of yardage to keep a drive alive.
- Score a touchdown against a team that hadn’t given up one in almost twelve quarters.
- Recover an onside kick.
- Move the ball enough to set up a field goal to win the game without a time out.
- You could argue that UT did enough the rest of the game to be in position to win and I don’t know that I’d disagree. Still, in the stadium until around the two minute mark, I never felt like UT had a chance to win. As successful as the Vol offense had been and as good as Crompton was, there was a point on every promising drive that the worn out Alabama defense emphatically shut the door. The final three minutes contained all the drama.
- Deserve has nothing to do with this game. This UT team still has a ways to go to be competitive every week. Sometime mediocre teams play great games against better competition but I’ve never felt this was a true indicator of a team’s progress (as Lane would have you believe). The measure in this sport is not total yards, first downs, or time of possession. It’s wins. This UT team is 3-4. That’s not very good.
- Keeping on the same theme, this situation reminds me of Alabama and LSU in ’07. The Tide took LSU to the wire and lost after leading most of the game. They felt good about themselves and then threw all that promise away in consecutive weeks (against Mississippi State, La-Monroe, and Auburn no less). This is not a prediction, but the Vols need to focus on South Carolina this week, and not what they did or almost did against Alabama. Another Vol loss this week (and more the rest of the way) will not surprise me at all.
- Lane Kiffin needs to shut the hell up. Obviously, I’m not a fan, but this is ridiculous. He’s already calling for the victory next year and and whining about headsets and penalties like it was a conspiracy that kept his team from winning. I loathe people that place blame on anyone but themselves for thier situation. Lane seem like the poster boy for that. Your team did a lot and I mean a lot to gain respect from at least this Alabama fan this week. Kiffin stuck a pin in that balloon real quickly with his big mouth. Just be quiet and let the team make the statement for what you’re doing.
- When is someone going to start the Kiffin promise board. He’s making promises more quickly than a politician – which he reminds me of. He’s saying all theses things that his fans want to hear but he isn’t really following up on them. I’ll start the check list: “… not getting recruits from Memphis (OK, that was Thompson, but he’s writing checks on Kiffin’s account) -not happening. “Sing Rocky Top all night after beating the Gators” – didn’t happen. After he’s finished promising all the losses from this season that are supposed to be wins next year UT should run the table by his estimation.
- Tennessee played a great game. They were well prepared and played very physical football for sixty minutes. Unlike the last two years, they never gave up in this one. My credit is worthless, but they were a more impressive product than I have seen in a while from the boys in orange. The single biggest superlative for this team is its tenacity.
- I always look forward to and enjoy this game every year. There was. however, a perfect storm of events that made this one extra special:
- Weather that proves God loves college football
- My friends Chris and Steve flying in from Albuquerque and Denver respectively keeping a string of twelve consecutive years where we all attend a game together going.
- Chris and Steve bringing their fraternity brothers Justin and Seth with them for the second time. These guys are southwest guys with no ties to Alabama other than friendship and have become big fans – they love the experience of southern football.
- Getting to meet and hang out with three folks I like and respect from the internet all in the same day: Holly, Doug, and later Clay Travis. Good folks all.
- The game itself. Obviously.
- Finishing the night doing shots with a former professional baseball player who was in town for the game. (and who was an all-around good guy).
Like the team, I need a bye week. I’m going to focus on work, flag football, and hopefully a little rock climbing before the team hits the field again for a huge matchup with the Tigahs.