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Friday, August 20, 2004
The Vols' Season
In response to my post about the Vols starting QB situation and the perception of us by certain members of the media, Barry over at the Inn of the Last Home had this to say:
Amazing that, for all the debacle of the Peach Bowl last year, that we:

Beat Florida AT FLORIDA.
Beat Alabama AT ALABAMA in about 35 overtimes.
Beat Miami AT MIAMI, something no nonconference team had done in decades.

But no, we lost the Peach Bowl (a bowl we shouldn't have been in in the first place) and we're "wallowing in mediocrity" and Fulmer has heat. Marv Albert - what a loser.
I include it all here becuase Barry makes some good points and I'd hate anyone to miss them for not looking at the comments in my blog. But I do think the Vols are suffering from a perception problem--the last two seasons seem to be failures in a lot of fans' and the outside media (ESPN)'s minds because of how poorly we played in the Peach Bowl. Thanks to the wonder that is CSS and repeating of last year's game as an appetizer for this year's season, I've seen all three of these games in the past couple of weeks. And, we only went to 32 overtimes with Bama, not 35.

I am hopeful and optimistic for the new season. Do we have our work cut out for us? Oh yeah. But we've been underestimated before--the Florida game in the swamp in 91, the national championship game, last year vs. Miami. And we've defied those expectations. Now, there are times we've not lived up to expectations, I'll freely admit that. But to think that Fulmer is on the hot seat is a bit much. After all, how many other coaches have one national titles in the past ten years? It's a pretty exclusive club. Do I want to get there again? Can I get a "Heck, yeah!" Cause I want to win another one. But first, I want to have a consistent season.

It seems like every year in the 90s the Vols would do just enough to win some games, lose to Florida but somehow have a complete game against Georgia. Sorry, Bulldog fans, but we owned you in the 90s. The time has turned and I find myself longing for having our complete game against Georgia again. It's amazing how confidence can go so quickly. One last second drive with the defense playing sloppy prevent d four years ago and the streak swings the other way. I'm not saying we'll beat Georgia this year, but I'm also wondering if Georgia might wilt under the harsh glare of scrutiny that comes with being pre-season top five. Certainly, Mark Richt has shown he's learned from his dunder-headed playcalling to start his career. But were those growing pains of his getting used to being the man in charge or will he have a couple more of those sneak up to bite him in the coming seasons. Time will tell. There are many who are ready to embrace Richt as the new coach to beat in the SEC. For me, the jury is still out. As I always told Georgia fans--OK, you beat Tennessee, but what did you do with that win? Did you go to the SEC Championship game? Did you play in a big bowl game? Yes, it's a big win--but only as big with how it affects the rest of your season. And the past two years, Georgia has done something with that win--they've run with it to the SEC Championship game. (Although Florida still has their number...which hey, when those two play if we could somehow have both teams lose, I'd be happy).

So, I'm excited for the new season. I'm optimisitc as I am every year. Ask anyone who knows me and every year I predict the following. Redskins vs Titans in the Super Bowl and UT playing for an SEC title. It doesn't always happen, but I'm optimistic each year. Right now, we've all got the same record, so let's get out there, rumble and see what happens. I think the first step is taking care of UNLV under the bright lights on national TV. Then, we can start to worry about Florida. (That series has become odd these past few years--what with the home team losing each of the last four games). But are the Vols underachieving? I'm not sure. As Barry points out, wins against Florida, Bama and Miami seem to say not. If you'd told me before last year that we'd win those games , would I have been satisfied? Yeah, probably. But it's the way we played one game--the Peach Bowl--that hurt our perception. Face it--we looked unfocused and not hungry. And as a Tennessee fan, that was what hurt the most. I can accept losing, so long as I feel like the team gave it its all. But I didn't feel like in the Georgia loss and the Clemson Peach Bowl game that we gave it all. Georgia, we gave a good half--had we gone into halftime up by one, I think we win it. The fumble and run-back by UGA really was a turning point of the game and maybe the season. As for the Peach Bowl, we just looked bored and uninterested at times. And Clesmon clearly wanted it more. And I think that's what hurts the most--not that we lost, but how we lost.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/20/2004 02:37:00 PM | |
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