Monday, September 21, 2009

The Moral Victories of the Young Lane

As I looked at the box score of this Saturday’s game I felt like the numbers were eerily familiar. Then I looked at the box score of last year’s game and saw why.

The two games were almost the same. Only this time, Tennessee was a little bit worse.

Take at look at the box scores –

Tennessee had 3 fewer first downs and 48 fewer total yards than a year ago. Florida, on the other hand had 4 more first downs, and 80 more yards.

It doesn’t stop there. The supposedly hapless Crompton managed 162 yards passing in 2008 with a 5.8 yards per attempt average to 93 yards this year and 4.9 average. Apparently last year’s coaches knew how to get more out of Crompton against the same Florida defense.

Tennessee’s rushing was marginally better at 117 yards against 96 yards last season. Florida, on the other hand ran for 208 yards versus 147 at Neyland.

This year the Vols turned the ball over only two times, against 3 turnovers last year, so we have some improvement there.

So while the score may seem a little more palatable at 23-10 rather than 30-6, remember that Florida scored on a Brandon James punt return last season, so our offensive scoring output was identical. Tennessee did manage to get in the endzone this year.

After the Florida game last year Tennessee had a 1-2 record having beat UAB, and after having lost at UCLA and Florida. This year, Tennessee is the same 1-2 having beat an arguably less capable Western Kentucky, and having lost to UCLA at Knoxville and Florida by virtually the same outcomes.

What is Coach Kiffin’s reaction to mediocrity? Well, elation.

“I think we have a powerful message around the country about what’s going on in Tennessee football,” Kiffin said, speaking directly to the five-star recruits of America.

“I think there is a real strong message about Tennessee football out there right now. And people who follow recruiting have noticed that.”

A message so strong, in fact, that it is indistinguishable from last season’s start.

Also can there be any doubt now that Kiffin was playing not to get blown out? It seems Lane fancies himself a beneficiary of the gaudy Vegas line.

Then there is this tidbit sure to inspire the spirits of starter Jonathan Crompton –

“We have to find a Tim Tebow in recruiting,” Kiffin said.

So Jonathan, you hold that spot down while Kiffin finds his own Tim Tebow. Do all you can for Lane’s moral victories this year.

And who knows? After a couple more close losses, Kiffin may have the SEC right where he wants them.


Robert said...

If UcheaT fans could read (how's that for a reckless hypothetical to start a discussion?) they would look at the chart you have posted, sit down quietly and shut up. They're just as delusional now as they were after beating WKU. The unjustified crowing has apparently spread from Lame Kitten to all of the orange-clad inbreds up on Rocky Flop.

That team is much worse than the score of the game indicated, and is going to suffer for it later in the year as they continue to play "up" to their true level of "skill."

jj gator said...

If I hear "Kiffin won a moral victory" one more time, I'll heave all over my goddamn computer. For Crissake, UcheaT LOST yesterday, Kiffykins was forced to put his foot in his mouth over all that nonsense he was spouting this spring, and his guys were shut down by a Florida team that wasn't even firing on all cylinders. How the FUCK can that be called a "moral victory"? I say that he got what was coming to him.

suomi-expat said...

I think there are a couple of positives to take from this game. First, eventually, the gator's D was able to slow down the two-headed running attack. Even though it seemed they tried to do it with only 7 in the box on the vol's first drive to no avail (injured Spikes perhaps?).

Second, our offense was able to keep up a decent amount of production against what turned out to be a pretty fast defense front. Though the O-line seems to need a bit more time for gelling and our lack of depth at receiver is scary, I would say the biggest change from last year was the turnovers. Both resting on Tebow's shoulders. But he was able to make up for those and that the benefit of having superman taking snaps for you.