September 13, 2015
Last year, in Norman, the Sooners handled Tennessee pretty well as our predominantly freshman team struggled to make anything work eventually being sent home with a 34-10 loss. This year was going to be different to Vol fans. Riding on the back of 2 top 5 recruiting classes and a winning season with a bowl victory, hype was at a all time high for the Vols.
With the Vols being ranked in the top 25 preseason polls for the first time since the Fulmer era, and the second installment of Checkered Neyland, Vol fans were ready to see exactly how good Butch Jones’ team was. The trash talk started early from the Sooner’s players as well as Coach Stoops.
Early in the game, however, you could see the concern on Stoops face as Tennessee immediately jumped ahead 17-3 with the noise level even drowned out the TV announcers ringing in at 114 decibels and holding the lead all the way into the 4th quarter. The 4th quarter, however, saw the wheels come off the Vols game as the defensive gave up 2 touchdowns to tie the game and send it into overtime where the Sooners eventually won the game on an interception of Josh Dobbs in the 2nd overtime.
Vol fans were shocked! The Vol’s offense seemed to be clicking in the first half with a successful running game and great passes by Josh Dobbs but it was, again, the tale of two halves as the second half showed a Vols team that were gassed and unable to produce much in the way of offensive yardage and the defense, losing Curt Maggitt with a hip injury, began to bend and bend too far. Tennessee allowed Oklahoma to climb back into the game with a suddenly inept offense and defense on its heals.
While I had no reservations saying the Vols were not going to have an undefeated season this year, it was inevitable that we would suffer some losses. With that being said, the loss to Oklahoma, while upsetting, was not soul crushing as it was with Vol fans. I would much rather have our kinks worked out of our team early in the season to be ready to face SEC foes.
Who would you rather lose to? Oklahoma? Florida? Alabama? Georgia?
I’ll take a loss to Oklahoma any day if it means we address some problems with the offense and defense and are ready for SEC teams, especially SEC East teams. Kirk Herbstreit has picked Tennessee to make it to the SEC championship game. It would be hard to do suffering losses to Florida and Georgia, and even perhaps to Kentucky who took out the Gamecocks 26-22 (by the way are coached by another Stoops!). Missouri, who are sitting a 2-0, haven’t played a worthy SEC opponent and won’t until they face Kentucky.
After Western Carolina this weekend, the Vols will face 6 straight SEC teams with 3 being at home in Neyland Stadium. Butch Jones’ Vols haven’t been stellar at home posting a 8-6 record at Neyland Stadium. All the more reason for the Vols to take their loss to Oklahoma more serious and start correcting issues before facing the SEC! Figuring out what happen to our passing game?, figuring out what the hell our kicker is doing?, figuring out what happen to our defense (assuming it wasn’t JUST Maggitt going out)?