So it wasn't exactly a comeback on the scale of the Miracle at South Bend.
But it terms of a season, it could have been.
The Vols travelled to Baton Rouge last night and played two very different halves of football. In the first half, we couldn't get out of our own way fast enough, spotting LSU a 21-0 lead at the half. But thankfully, there are two halves in football. (Or in this case two halves and an overtime period) And in the second half, the Vols delivered. An offense that hadn't scored in forever finally got on track with Rick Cluasen at quarterback. Now, a few weeks ago, I berated UT for giving the number 16 jersey to Clausen becuase it was supposed to be given to special players. I said at the time Clausen wasn't one...I take it all back. After last night's performance and show of leadership, Clausen definitely deserves to be wearing the number 16. The offense suddenly clicked and the defense was stout in the second half, giving up only 56 yards to LSU after getting ripped in the first half. But hey--the offense did no favors, basically giving LSU 14 points in the first half.
And suddenly, the Vols are in it. We tie it up late in the game and in overtime, Gerald Riggs rips off run after run against a tired, worn down LSU offense and carries the ball in on third-and-one from the half yard line to seal the deal in overtime. This was after a superb effort on defense to hold LSU to only a field goal in their possession.
Needless to say, I was pretty happy. OK, I was very, very happy to see the Vols win. And not only win but get the offense going. In the first half, I wondered--we hear so much about our offensive line but yet they aren't making any plays..what's up? In the second half, they took over the game, giving Clausen the time he needed to make plays. And the receivers finally started making some plays. It was if the lights all suddenly went on for UT on all sides of the ball and as the game went on, you could see UT waking up and being the team we all hoped they'd be when the season started.
And let me just give Rick Clausen some credit. After the game on live, national TV he praised his teammates not once but twice. For all he's been through off the field, I thought he showed some real class and what it means to be a Volunteer and a team player.
As for the ESPN coverage, it was hit or miss. Bob Davies actually had some nice things to say about UT during the lead up to the second half. He resisted Todd Blacklidge-itis in not piling on UT or having too big a love fest with the other team. Now, I will admit that I was irritated that he couldn't pronounce Clausen's last name right twice in a row. It's Clausen not Clowson. I noticed Brent Musburger had this problem on ABC a few years ago when UT played Miami, but I chalk that up to Musburger being an idiot more than anything else.
And here's the thing...I'm happy as a clam that we went in and upset LSU. I understand that this game was a big deal for them after all the area has faced. But, by the third time we got to the "please give to the poor LSU students" thing, I was over hearing about it. Yes, I understand you've been through a lot and you need all the help you can get. But let's not have it crammed down our throats anymore. And certainly, I'll give ESPN some credit that they dropped this angle in the second half, but in the first half it was a bit much.
Of course, as a UT fan, I can't sit and enjoy this one too long. Yes, we had a dramatic, emotional win over a top five team. And Ole Miss sits out there, waiting on Saturday. Too often in these cases, the Vols have had a letdown....I hope this doesn't prove true on Saturday.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/27/2005 07:09:00 AM