I’ve been thinking about this game for 36 hours. And I still don’t know what to think. I’ve heard people blame coaching. Surely Derek Dooley can’t get off blame free here. But I just don’t know where we are as a program. I think, from an expectation standpoint, the worst thing that happened to us this year was the blowout of a decent-to-good Cincinnati team. It set us as fans up to believe in something that just isn’t ready yet. This week personified what Tennessee football is this week, like it or not, and no fan of Tennessee likes it.
Justin Worley’s arm. There were a couple of throws, both 3rd and long completions to D’Anthony Arnett, and the bomb that Da’Rick Rogers dropped that were All-American throws. Those were throws that Matt Simms just can’t make.
Brian Randolph is starting to play pretty well. In fact he’s playing well enough that Prentiss Waggner can go back to his natural spot at the corner. Randolph also forced a fumble that at the time, got me really excited.
Devrin Young continues to be a weapon returning kicks. It’s going to get to the point, and soon where Young only getting to the 35 is going to be a disappointment.
Justin Worley’s decision making. I don’t know what he was thinking on both picks. On the first interception by DJ Swearinger, nobody was close to that ball. On the second, it was clearly a forced throw, to a guy who was double teamed, and double teamed well. Matt Simms can make those decisions. The Tennessee quarterback is a double-edged sword right now, and both edges are dull.
Tennessee’s inability to execute a sneak. A couple of times now in the last couple of weeks, big plays have come from Tennessee not being able to get a 4th and inches. Unacceptable. I don’t care whose fault it is, it needs to be fixed.
Shooting yourself in the foot. I can rationally figure out where Tennessee could have 17-21 more points than it ended up with. What does it say about the program, when my first thought after Prentiss Waggner’s long pick was “Crap, I am not sure if they’re gonna score here”. Brian Randolph came up with a huge forced fumble, that led to the second interception. Da’Rick Rogers’ drop was a huge blow to momentum. Rogers is starting to remind me of Terrell Owens. He’s big, strong, makes some great catches, and has some huge drops. Is he still great? Yep. Does he do a lot of things that drive you crazy? Yep. False starts happen. But, two in a row? That cost us 3 points at a minimum. A lot of ifs ands and buts coming, but if we make the second field goal, now it’s 6-0 Tennessee. At 7-6, if Rogers catches the touchdown, it’s 13-7 at halftime. If Waggner gets into the end zone, it’s 20-7. I think at 20-14 final is reasonable. Too many self-inflicted mistakes. Some on the coaches, some on the players. The margin for error is now razor-thin.