Friday, September 14, 2007

Blog Swap, Tennessee Week

Hey folks, as promised we're going to be exchanging guest posts with our rivals. Up first, Tennessee. Whether it's Smokey, Rocky Top, the checkerboard end zones or the fact that you can't buy Jack Daniel's in Lynchburg, there's probably something that bugs the crap out of you about Tennessee. Well it's just as likely they the Vols have a deep disdain for visors and jean shorts. So we're turning this blog over to our counterparts at Vol Nation so that you Gator fans (the best damned fans in the land) can get it straight from the horse's mouth. And to see what we are telling their fans make sure to visit Vol Nation. This post will remain at the top of the blog through at least tomorrow morning. Make sure to SCROLL DOWN to see newer posts during that time. With no further ado, I turn the floor blog over to vol.freak from Vol Nation.


I hate the Florida Gators! Come on, don't you all think most fans hate you guys right now? I mean, your program is sitting right where every college football fan wants to be: defending National Champions. Who would have guessed getting rid of Zook and bringing in a new coach could have this type of effect this quickly? It's an interesting example that some Tennessee fans would like to test on our current coaching situation.

Florida also starts one of the most talked about quarterbacks in the game, Tim Tebow. He's only a sophomore and I would argue that most SEC fans around the league are already tired of hearing about him. He's played really well from what we've all seen. This year, the team is solely in his hands and Tebow will get to show the nation if he's ready for big time football. It will be most impressive is he is able to live up to the hype and lead this team as he is expected to do so early in his career.

There are more reasons I hate the Gators. I've made three trips to Gainesville in my lifetime. All in the 1990's and all losses. In addition to the horrible game play, I got drenched with rain each and every year. They were all very unmemorable experiences for me. I believe I had a least a dozen Gator fans get right up in my face harassing me after the game. Believe me, after traveling all that way to watch your team stink it up year after year, it takes every ounce of self control not to just go off on someone. I know obnoxious fans are present at every school, but you guys really do have more of them than any school I've ever been to... and I've been a lot of places. There were fans throwing things, rocking our bus after the game, and I was witness to some craziness on the strip that I won't even get into. In all fairness, since I haven't visited in several years, things could possibly have gotten better.

As bad as that group of rabid fans were and the fact that we lost, you may be surprised to learn that those games in Gainesville were among my favorite road trips. Florida fans were actually quite civil prior to the game. I suppose they must work themselves into a frenzy during the game and that must carry over to afterward. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the alcohol levels later in the day. Regardless, my pre-game experience was a positive one. I really enjoy Florida's campus and the strip is always a great time. My last visit, the band at the outdoor bar we frequented actually played Rocky Top for us on a regular basis. I give the Florida strip a solid A for pre-game festivities.

I'll add one more observation about Gainesville before I get on to actual football. The atmosphere at the Swamp is very impressive. I'm always amazed at how loud the stadium is considering that it is quite a bit smaller than Neyland. Florida fans do a great job of being loud and because of that, I have no doubts that it is one of the most difficult places to play in the conference. I won't even mention the afternoon Florida heat and how that affects visiting teams. Tennessee fans should all learn to be as loud as Gator fans.

On to the game....

In most years since the early 90's, this week has been my favorite week of the year. Florida week always brings the anticipation and the hope of what could be. It's no secret to anyone the importance of this game, for both teams. It usually means supremacy in the east and a trip to Atlanta on the line. Win this game and you are in the driver seat. Lose, and you'll spend the rest of the year trying to battle back, hoping the other helps out somewhere along the line.

With all that said, this year I don't feel it. Why is that? Could it be that the lowly Vols don't stand a chance, hence my apathetic attitude? I don't think that's it. Most odds makers are picking the Gators by a little over a touchdown. That's a pretty small margin compared to some of Tennessee's underdog road wins in recent years. A prime example was 2001.

That final game of the regular season in 2001 is quite the memory for most Tennessee loyalists. I don't think many gave us a chance- Spurrier at the helm, Florida heading to the SECC and then most likely National Championship. The game was at Gainesville and Florida was favored by double digits. The actual outcome would never be in question... would it? Somebody forgot to tell Travis Stephens how tough it is to win in Gainesville. He ran for 226 yards that day, a number I assume doesn't get put up very often against Gator defenses.

Another great example would come just two years later in 2003. Surely that win in Gainesville was a fluke and the Vols would have to wait a couple of decades before pulling something like that off again. Right? In a tough battle, Tennessee was able to win their second straight in Gainesville that day. Interestingly, Casey Clausen (one of Tennessee's most under appreciated quarterbacks), did the unthinkable and went undefeated in the Swamp during his career at Tennessee.

Even 1998 was a year that most didn't believe Tennessee could compete with the mighty Gators. Peyton Manning was gone and if he couldn't beat Florida, surely first year starter Tee Martin didn't have a prayer. After all, the Gators were less than two years removed from their 96 National Title. I'm sure you remember the thriller that season.

A final example was in 2004, Tennessee started two freshman quarterbacks. Is there any way they would be ready to compete this early in the season? In another thriller, Tennessee prevailed. The ending that year is probably Florida fans equivalent to Gaffney (non)catch. It was a weird ending where the officials ended up having an impact on the outcome of the game. Regardless, it took a 51 yard field goal to win the game by a kicker who had just missed an extra point on the prior possession.

All that said, I think it's very possible that Tennessee could win the game on Saturday. I don't think it's likely but I do think, based on the above, that it could happen. For Tennessee to win, the Vols have to hope for some Florida mistakes. Tim Tebow will need to look like a sophomore quarterback playing in his first big time SEC game. In addition, Tennessee's offensive line will need to control the game and allow the Vols to rush for some big numbers. Winning the battle of mistakes and winning the rushing game, those are they keys. Otherwise, I predict a long day. If Tennessee's offense is unable to control the clock, a vulnerable Tennessee defense could surrender a LOT of points.

I would wish the Gators luck or at least wish them well the rest of the season, however, if I did that it wouldn't be sincere. While I look forward to our match up every year, I'd wouldn't be telling the truth if I didn't tell you that I'll be pulling against the Gators each week throughout the season. I'm sure most of you feel the same about Tennessee. In my experience, it's usually the great teams that are most hated. Florida fans should take pride in the fact that they've earned our hatred on the field. That, I do respect.

See you Saturday. Go Vols!


Orangeblooded_2 from our board wanted to add his thank you to the Gators and I promised him I would include it in my post.


Coach Fulmer said it after the game and I think the thought has gotten lost in history, but finally beating UF in 1998 had probably more to do with the TEAM OF DESTINY than anything.

Coming off the last second win at Syracuse, the VOLS still had a ton of questions about their team and 2 weeks to ask them (for some reason, we always had a BYE week before the UF game).

After Cooper missed that FG in OT, the monkey was gone, both from Fulmers back and from ours. CPF said in his post game interview words to the effect of "We beat UF and got it out of the way. It would seem a waste to not let a huge win like this go by the wayside. It would be great if our guys will use this win to propel them to far greater things"

I think the team used that UF win a lot in that '98 season as motivation...Jamal went down at Auburn, Arkansas came to Neyland loaded for bear, we trailed MSU in the SECCG that year...I can't help but to think a lot of them remembered that UF game and just didn't want it to go to waste and so they overcame a lot by that win.


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