Hours removed, a few initial impressions from the Tennessee game:
- That was the most emotionally draining game I've sat through since at least the 2005 Tennessee game. Even the Florida game last year in Atlanta paled in comparison. I tell you, I think I speak for the whole of the fan base when I say that had that game gone on any longer, half of us would have died from a collective heart attack, myself included.
- You guys know how much I loathe the Vols, but they deserved to win this game. They had almost 100 more total yards than we did, more first downs, won the time of possession battle, averaged almost three and a half yards more per passing attempt than we did, were better on third down, and were better on fourth down to boot. In almost every major statistical category -- sans rushing totals and placekicking -- the Vols outperformed us. They deserved to win today, truth be told. I'm just elated that we somehow got the job done.
- To say we pulled this one out by the slimmest of margins is a vast overstatement of the margin of victory. Three field goals were determined by a total of about 36 inches, and all three of them went in our favor. Which is, of course, to say nothing of the two blocked kicks by Terrence Cody. In all honesty, we probably couldn't pull this one out again if our lives depended on it.
- Two quarterbacks on the field today... one was terrible, the other was Jonathon Crompton. I know that Crompton has been the butt of every joke around the SEC the past couple of years, but he played a fine game today. He wasn't just getting all day to throw to wide open receivers, either, he made some great throws into some very tight windows under duress. I'm not going to take anything away from what he did today. He's had two great games in a row, and he should be recognized as such. I tell you, had Crompton played like this all year, Tennessee would be a 10-win team and he would be a first day NFL Draft pick. Or, better yet, had he played like this last year, Fulmer would still be roaming the sidelines in Knoxville.
Greg McElroy, on the other hand, played terrible, plain and simple. He cannot throw the football at all right now. And our offensive coaches know it, and our defensive opponents know it too. Our "passing game," -- again, if you can even call it that -- was just a collection of dink and dunks. Dump-offs to the backs, swing passes out of the backfield, screen passes to Julio, five-yard hitch routes, five-yard out routes by the tight ends, etc. It's nothing really... 29 passes for 120 yards, barely 4.1 yards per attempt. Just a joke. And it was even uglier than that, really. McElroy made a lot of bad decisions on who to throw the football to, and frankly just missed a lot of open receivers. The only true down field completion was to Maze, and that throw was thrown badly behind his target. The second best passing play we had of the day was the 12-yard gain on the draw play by McElroy, and if you think about it that's just sad. And being brutally honest, unless McElroy really starts to play a lot better -- and I'm afraid to say that I don't see anything that would necessarily cause me to expect that -- we're not going to score a lot of points regardless.
- Offensive playcalling was terrible once again for the second time in three weeks. With a laughingstock of a passing game we throw the football twice with one yard to go for a first down inside the Tennessee five-yard line? And on two short-yardage situations on third down in the third quarter, we give the ball to Trent Richardson and Roy Upchurch, i.e. not Mark Ingram? Ingram had all of about five touches in the second half. And we're throwing the football late in the game, inevitably stopping the clock when the incompletion comes? McElroy's terrible play hurt us, but the playcalling was just as bad, if not worse. If we go in for the score inside the five, we go into halftime with a 13-3 lead and the game is almost over at that stage.
- It was nice to see us get Julio Jones involved, but it was still frustrating as could be. A once-in-a-generation player and we have to call countless bubble screens and hitch routes just to get him the ball? Unreal frustrating.