Can’t get enough of the Bulldogs

Vols 33, Bulldogs 21

Another week, another victory over the Bulldogs — this time of Starkville, Mississippi (in)fame. Arian Foster (139 yards rushing) and Lucas Taylor (186 yards receiving) both had big days. Erik Ainge, disciplined as ever, brought his passing back up to 259 yards. His season low (169 yards) was in the Vols’ biggest win in last week’s game against Georgia (which, incidentally, was also his higest pass completion percentage game). Ainge has consistently been the most solid performer on the team. It’s good to see some other players coming along.

It was yet another untelevised (pay-per-view doesn’t count, you know) Tennessee game. If national television coverage is like a canary in a coal mine, then the Vols should be worried. CBS just opted for Kentucky-Florida for the Third Saturday in October instead of Tennessee Alabama. I had a nightmare last night that YouTube was the only network that would carry the Big Orange.

Times are indeed strange.

Backs to the wall, Vols run the ball

Vols 35, Bulldogs 14

Defense. The running game. Tennessee football has returned to Rocky Top, and it feels good. Of course it always feels good to beat Georgia. To my great surprise, the Vol coaching staff must have actually turned the last two weeks into an entire summer program.

Does this mean Phillip Fulmer is off the hook? Not a chance. He’s got many more games to win to change my mind on that matter. But let’s not dwell on the negative. Back to the wall, Fulmer pulled one out, and for that I commend him.

.500

Vols 48, Indians 27

Now that Tennessee has defeated the Arkansas State “former Indians,” the Vols are now 2-2. Things are back on the upswing, right?

If it were only that easy.

The Vols did good to win today, but the real story of this weekend were the tough games played by Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and um, Kentucky.

We’ve got all those teams ahead, and next week’s bye makes the next two weeks of utmost importance to Coach Fulmer and his staff.

Let’s hope they think of them as 14 days of job security…

The end of the Phillip Fulmer era

Vols 20, Gators 59

It’s time.

At Tennessee, you can only lose to an arch rival so many times. You can only throw a subordinate coach under the bus so many times. You can only slap arrested players on the wrist so many times. At some point, it’s time to move on.

Phillip Fulmer’s time is up.

It’s been nearly a decade since Fulmer’s 1998 team captured the national championship. Although the state of Tennessee still inexplicably issues National Championship vanity license plates, for most Vol fans the memory of that banner year has faded.

Today’s embarrassing loss to a strong-but-not-that-strong Florida squad should seal the deal. Fulmer has always been a great recruiter, but as anyone in the military will tell you, the battle is won on the field, not the recruiting office.

I still hate the Gators, but my blog nemesis (for this week anyway), the Jollyblogger, has a point in dubbing the Vols as “Outback Bowl runners-up.” We may not even get that far if the Fulmer regime remains in place.

It’s been a great ride on the Fulmer express, but the train has reached the station.

Gator Hater Week 2007

Now With 30% Less Hatred

One point.

That’s the margin by which the Florida Gators won in last year’s game against Tennessee. Does such a slim margin mean that we should hate the Gators any less?

Absolutely not! There’s still plenty of hatred to go around.

One of the questions that I’m most often asked regarding the Gators is this: “Do you hate the Gators any less now that the Ol’ Ball Coach has moved on to the chicken coop?”

By no means! That would be unfair to the Gators to put all my hatred in to one visor-wearing coach.

Yes friends, this is the week that hatred reigns supreme. The Tennessee Vols take on the Florida Gators this Saturday in that completely asymmetrical arena they call the Swamp.

This week, do yourself some favors: hate the Gators.

Killing the Giant Killers

Vols 39, Golden Eagles 19

Following the typical playbook for a Tennessee pay-per-view game, the Vols started out shaky and rallied in the second half to win handily. Southern Mississippi is legendary for creating upsets, but five games with Tennessee have yet to perpetate the legend.

I didn’t see this game, but I listened to the often confusing successors to John Ward and Bill Anderson on a streaming webcast of the game. The offense sounded sound, and the defense sounded still shaky. I hope it’s just my ears failing me…

All in all, a good prep for next week’s foray into the swamplands.

Tis the season

Vols 31, Golden Bears 45

It’s football time in Tennessee. And even though I live in Virginia, that sentiment is expressed around this blog in the form of University of Tennessee football game recaps. Like ’em or not, they’re back.

Tonight’s game saw the Vols lose the opener with California. The Golden Bears, complete with tree-huggers encamped in protest atop the trees surrounding the Berkeley stadium, executed a stunning display of offense against the Vols that left them playing catch-up the whole night.

This game was surprising in a couple of ways. The Vols’ ability to mount such an explosive, fast-acting offense was a welcome trait that I didn’t expect (Erik Ainge had 270 yards). This will be a valuable asset in Gainesville a couple of weeks from now. Likewise surprising was the ability of Cal to walk right through the Vol defense. I haven’t seen a Tennessee defensive line exploited this much in years. The Cal offense was indeed tough, but Tennessee stopping power was noticeably AWOL.

Southern Mississippi is on the menu for next week, let’s hope that the Vol defense doesn’t go further south than that.

Bloomin’ Onion Football

Vols 10, Nittany Lions 20

Groan. After a lackluster game which proved the referees as the only stars of the game, Penn State claimed the much-coveted Outback Bowl title. Presumably, there will be a steak named after the winning team.

OK, maybe not, but neither the Vols nor the Nittany Lions looked like they had the proverbial “eye of the tiger.” The Tennessee defense made a couple of good stops, but Johnny Chavis has a lot of work to do from now until September. The offense, amidst its stable of powerhouse talent, still lacked the coalescence that’s needed for an offense potent enough to contend for a BCS bowl, or an SEC Championship at that.

That said, 9–4 is still better than last year’s (oh, what was last year’s record?). Next year could be a banner year for the Vols (please stay Robert Meachem!), but Warden Fulmer first needs to instill a bit of discipline on some of his more cantankerous inmates — I mean, players. So Happy New Year Volunteers! Here’s to a Big Orange 2007!

Flushing the Commode-doors

Vols 39, Commodores 10

After a one-year lapse, the annual tradition of vandalizing Vanderbilt continues. Intramural games are never better than in November.

For a game I didn’t get to watch or listen to, the Tennessee-Vanderbilt certainly looked exciting from the ESPN gamecast perspective. Lots of orange lines and arrows moving back and forth. I almost gave in and paid $11.95 to watch the game via the internet. I may have to cave in and try that next weekend…