If you told me on September 16th that Tennessee would be 5-3 and 1st place in the SEC East, I would have laughed you back to the Tri-Cities, optimistic Vol fans. It's been a Johnny Carson style season (weird, wild stuff), but I'm happy to be where we're at. We are in the driver's seat, which, in the college football world (and ONLY in the college football world), it's the best seat to be in, even if you end up being there drunk. Which is what we've done at Tennessee. We've stumbled, crawled, and cried our way to controlling our own destiny in the toughest division in football.
But, when looking at this season's performance, can we expect to not drop the ball again? This is Tennessee's third time to control their own destiny in the SEC East. First, when sitting at 0-0 in conference play, and traveling to Florida. We saw how that turned out. Then, on September 29th, Auburn upset Florida, bring the Gators down a rung on the ladder, with LSU looming on showdown Saturday. That same Saturday, Tennessee had a game against rival Georgia, in formerly Richt-Neyland Stadium. The Vols blew the Dawgs out, and LSU beat Florida to give Tennessee it's 2nd chance to control their own destiny. A week later, we went on the road and beat a good Mississippi State team (good for them, not good like Top 25 ... yet). The 3rd Saturday in October was an embarrassment, and were once again dead men walking.
Until ... Georgia managed to upset Florida in convincing fashion. Their game ended about an hour before our game against Steve Spurrier. We came out and acted like we were taking the East right then and there. Boom! 21-0 at half, showing moxie on both sides of the ball, looking like a real Tennessee Volunteers team. But someone slipped some GHB in our locker room gatorade, and we came out playing like drunk sorority girls on casino night. The Ghost of 2nd Half Collapses once again made an appearance on our roster, much like it did in Berkeley, Gainesville, and Tuscaloosa. Luckily, Daniel Lincoln doesn't believe in ghosts.
Anyway, the point is forthcoming.
What makes any of us so confident that our guys will take charge this third time, and win the East? Is it the mere fact that we only have 3 SEC games left and odds are better because of it? Or is it because we have 2 of those 3 games at home, where we're undefeated this year? I personally think we might not make it past the next SEC game before we blow it.
This team has had opportunity after opportunity handed to it, and thus far, has crapped it away each time. The talent on this team is plentiful, because you don't "show flashes" with no talent. We've shown flashes of being a great team, but it's been far too inconsistent, and it's been combined with scared playcalling on both sides of the ball. Arkansas is on tap, and we need to remember two things: 1. 2006 @ Arkansas, and 2. Cory Boyd just averaged 8 ypc on us. (Yes, I know, ULL is next, but we're talking SEC here) It's too late to fix things. It's going to be November on Saturday! NOVEMBER! You can't change scheme in November. Thought, if I was John Chavis, I would consider it. You cannot win games consistently when you have corners playing 10 yards off the receivers. You also will get picked apart if you continue to rely on Jerod Mayo and Rico McCoy in pass coverage. They suck at it.
So, someone, anyone, please make a logical debate for me on why this Tennessee team can finish up 3-0 to win the East with a nothing secondary put into bad schemes, a linebacking corps that has been the most disappointing unit on the team, and a coaching staff that won't even follow through on their word. Please, make me excited.
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