Vanderbilt picked up their first win of the season with a 34-31 win over Massachusetts while Tennessee suffered their first loss 34-10 at #4 Oklahoma this past weekend. Still, my impressions of the two remain unchanged, despite these changed results. The Commodores are still as much of a mess as they were if not more, and the Volunteers are still as encouraging as they were before. So the games of week 3 really changed little.
Patton Robinette finally appears to have emerged as Vandy’s #1 quarterback after starting the opener only to be ridiculously pulled after only two series. But in the process, Coach Derek Mason alienated Robinette, ruined Stephen Rivers and Johnny McCrary at least for this season—and selfishly robbed true freshman Wade Freebeck of an entire year of eligibility by foolishly starting him against UMass out of his offensive ignorance and panic, predictably only staying with him for a single quarter. So no, nothing really changed there.
UT went into a situation they were not going to win in anyway, looking for growth and maturity. Coach Butch Jones’ #1 priority this season, other than winning, seems to be returning Tennessee football back to the mentality of yesteryear—looking to restore what the Volunteers stood for forever: tough hard-nosed disciplined football; a power running game; big-play receivers; a stout defense; and never being afraid of or backing down from anyone. Tennessee has always been willing to play anyone anywhere. So traveling to play the Sooners was a very important step.
Considering the opponents and backdrops, you could say Tennessee still had a better week than Vanderbilt did. Certainly UT gained much more for the long run than did Vandy, despite the final scores. The Vols have more positives they can carry from Saturday than the ‘Dores do. Tennessee furthered an identity and learned more about what they will need to improve on to return to college football’s elite. Vanderbilt learned little. They did win but just barely over a terrible team. The same glaring problems we had seen in their descent into the abyss of 0-2 were just as glaring.
Each gets an opportunity to show what it learned, if anything, in their next games—both against top conference competition. Vanderbilt hosts #14 South Carolina in a night game at Vanderbilt Stadium this Saturday, while Tennessee gets the week off before traveling to take on Georgia in an 11 am kickoff on Sept. 27.
South Carolina and Georgia provided the best game of the previous college football weekend as the Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 38-35. It was a game that literally came down to a fraction of an inch as Carolina was awarded a first down from a fourth down allowing them to run out the clock. UGA kicker Marshall Morgan, who earlier in the day broke UT’s Fuad Reviez’s long-standing record by making his 20th consecutive field goal, missed two short ones late to seal Georgia’s fate.
Another classic game and controversial finish came from Gainesville as Florida squeaked past Kentucky 36-30 in triple overtime. Sophomore WR Demarcus Robinson caught 15 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns, the last of which came on a 4th-and-7 in the first OT—a play Kentucky contended started after the play clock had expired. The league office on Sunday confirmed no violation had occurred, however. Matt Jones, who rushed for 160 yards on the night, went in from the one to win it, Florida’s 28th straight over Kentucky. Florida travels to play #3 Alabama this Saturday.