Despite predictions of a total Gator beatdown (from myself included), the Vols managed to keep the game with the Gators respectful, losing 23-13. You know, Tennessee actually looks close to being a good team. It’s kind of frustrating, because I really think they may be just one competent QB away. But apparently right now, they just don’t have one. Let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of today’s contest:
- Monte Kiffin’s defense is the real deal. They did a great job containing a motivated Tim Tebow and Gator offense. Holding Tebow to just 115 yards passing, sacking him 3 times, picking him off once, and forcing him to fumble once is doing good work. The defense gave up a little on the ground, but never gave up any big plays and kept the Vols in this one.
- Speaking of real deals, Eric Berry is the MAN! Berry had an outstanding catch for an interception that should have set the Vols up for a TD (instead they settled for 3), and was just all over the field. Berry won’t make a serious run for Heisman this year because of the way that process works, but he should.
- The offensive line played much better this week than last. It is actually impressive that the Vols were able to establish a bit of a running game considering that they are absolutely no threat to do anything through the air.
- Montario Hardesty is running the ball like a man possessed. Nearly turned in an 100 yard effort against an 8 man front.
- The passing game. Again less than 100 yards through the air. And 2 more interceptions. Not being able to threaten defenses through the air is a huge liability.
- The defense was good, but they could have been better on 3rd downs. Florida was able to convert 8 out of 13 third downs. The worse was the 3rd down where Tebow appeared to be surely going down for a sack but somehow got away (while Rico McCoy took an awful angle, he should have been in a position to clean the sack up) and instead of a loss, he picked up the first down. Florida would later score a TD on the drive to go up 23-6 at the time. That was a game changer.
- Lane Kiffin may have technically stuck with Jonathan Crompton. But his playcalling today clearly indicates that he has absolutely no faith in him anymore. Kiffin resorted to calling run plays in many obvious passing situations. And even when he did call for passes, Crompton was only allowed to dink and dunk little short passes, swing routes, and screens. Clearly the idea was for Crompton to just not screw up. But eventually against good competition, you need a QB to make a play or two. Otherwise defenses will just crowd the line, as Florida did. It’s hard to score against that, and UT did well to get 13.
So I guess there is some hope that this season will not be a total disaster. But without a QB, I still think we are looking at a 6-6-ish year. Next up for the Vols is Ohio, which the Vols will probably be able to handle easily regardless of who plays QB. It will be interesting, though, if Kiffin at least starts to think of going elsewhere. Heck, if he is going to protect Crompton as if he is a freshman anyway, maybe they should just go ahead and play a real freshman at QB. Or at least somebody who will be here next year.
I may or may not write up thoughts after next week’s game. Probably won’t be on the tele’, at least not live. And no sense writing up stuff based on second-hand info. But if I watch it later, I may put up a late post with my musings. We shall see.