Just when I was going to demand the Vols scrap those hideous smoky gray uniforms….
Just when I thought it was time to deport Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Debord….
Just when I thought they should ban any and all preseason polls and college football magazines in Tennessee….
A miracle happened. Vol Nation woke up.
It was 21-0 before the Vols managed to make a measly field goal just before halftime.
They could not possibly have played a worse first half if they tried. They dropped six catchable passes after having dropped only two passes in their first three gamescombined. They kept running it up the middle where Gators were chomping their legs off.
It was hard to watch.
Ah, but there were 30 more minutes to play. The Vols caught fire on Rocky Top.
Can you believe 38-28? I saw it. You did too.
How did Jones get his players to believe?
He told them, “One play at a time. We didn’t play well in the first half.
“I told them it was all on us.’’
With three of their best defensive players out with injury, the Vols persevered. With quarterback Joshua Dobbs only 7 for 20 throwing downfield for only 84 yards and an interception in the first half, it was bleak. With workhorse running back Jalen Hurd held to 36 yards in 12 trips, the sellout crowd was subdued.
A number of fans from the student section were seen leaving Neyland Stadium at halftime. They don’t know what they missed.
Oh, how things changed.
Murfreesboro sophomore Jauan Jennings took a 67-yard touchdown pass from Dobbs in the fourth quarter. He motored down the right sideline to paydirt. It put the Vols ahead for the first time all day. They wouldn’t look back.
Four different Vols receivers, including tight end Ethan Wolf, caught touchdown passes from Dobbs.
They scored 38 consecutive points against the Gators.
Dobbs finished with five touchdowns, four with his arm, one with his legs. Hurd ran 26 times for 95 yards.
“I thought we were too emotional (early),’’ Jones said in his presser. “We were living and dying on every snap. It showed. Wheras in the second half we had played every snap.’’
Jones mounted a ladder to lead the Tennessee Pride of the Southland band in a raucous version of Rocky Top.
He should not quit his day job.
So it is on to road trips to Georgia and Texas A&M before returning to Neyland Stadium to tackle Alabama.
These three games will likely determine Tennessee’s fate.
For now, all is well on Rocky Top.
Sreak? What streak?
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.