Tennessee 20, App State 13. In overtime. I said yesterday that the Vols were going to choke at some point this year, I just didn’t think it would be in the season opener and I never thought it would be against App State. Just like I never thought there was such a thing as a bad win, but #9 Tennessee proved me wrong last night.
Tennessee came in as a top 10 team and favored by three touchdowns, but the Volunteers Hype Train nearly went off a bridge and into the Tennessee River. Just don’t look for Vols head coach Butch Jones to be feeling bad about that. “I think we’ve learned around here wins are pretty hard to come by. Never apologize for a win.”
Actually, coach, you might want to take out a full page ad in the Knoxville News Sentinel to say you’re sorry. Because if there ever was a time to apologize for a win, it was last night. That was ugly. And no, going over to the Mountaineer players after the game to hype them, doesn’t make that win any better. There’s no amount spin that will make that look good.
When App State comes to your house, beats you for most of the game, misses an extra point and a field goal, butchers the clock, blows it in the end, and you need a fluke play to win, that’s a bad win. One of the worst of all-time. And App State nearly added another huge win to their resume, 9 years to the day that they beat Michigan in the Big House. Tennessee paid App State a reported $1.15 mill for that game and the only thing better than getting that kind of cash would be to get that cash and get the win.
Butch Jones has been stacking big name recruits, but they were getting blown off the ball by App State. How are they going to compete in the SEC when they couldn’t control the line of scrimmage against a team from the Sun Belt?
But to hear Butch tell it, his guys just slayed a dragon. “We knew that it was going to be a great challenge. You don’t win 17 out of your last 19 games and just expect to come in here (and win).”
Actually when you’re facing App State, and you’re maybe a national title dark horse, yes, you are just expected to come in here and win. There’s a reason why you were paying them more than a million bucks for that game – so that you could just come in here and win. So that you could get a tune-up before heading to Bristol Motor Speedway next week to face Virginia Tech. You don’t pay a team 7 figures to come into your house, so they can come into your house and punch in the face repeatedly. You do it because you want an organized scrimmage.
But Butch wasn’t done: “They’re a physical, tough football team. Very, very active in their defensive front, which causes some issues up front.”
Are you talking about App State or Alabama? You had all offseason to prepare for them and they still caused issues? And they still had you beaten?
Tennessee’s biggest play of the game was a fumble in overtime. Their own fumble. And a forward fumble at that. On third and goal from the two, quarterback Joshua Dobbs was running towards the goal line, got drilled and lost the ball into the end zone before running back Jalen Hurd won the battle to recover it. Without that fluke play, we’re having a very different conversation. But really, not that much different, because Tennessee did everything but lose that game.
They didn’t even look like they were a top ten team in the SEC. So stop thinking beating a team that just joined FBS is a good thing and stop celebrating like you just won the SEC.