One of the ball boys from Ole Miss had to improvise a bridge of two-by-fours Saturday to reach a kick that had sailed over a retaining wall and had "thwacked" down in that clay. The whole thing is ugly and incomplete.
Just like the Tide's fourth quarter.
Receiver Sam Collins put it bluntly after the game. Asked the rather obvious question "What does this team need to do?" the junior flanker from Fayette said, "We just need to learn how to finish."
Maybe that's an equally obvious answer, but many teams have floundered around for whole seasons, unable to fix their problems for the simple fact they didn't know what problems they had.
According to Collins, who scored his first career touchdown on a 58-yard pass from Tyler Watts, this 2001 Tide team knows full well what its problems are. "We're very close and very capable of turning this thing around," he says.
When Collins says this, he doesn't sound like he's doing a daily affirmation to convince himself or anyone else of something that isn't true, and he doesn't sound like a cocky youngster who laughs in the face of danger and common sense. It's a statement of fact, not opinion.
Another receiver who pulled in a touchdown catch, Triandos Luke, said that the loss was hard to take. "It's tough going into the fourth quarter being up, and then losing."
Luke echoed Yogi Berra when he compared Saturday's loss to the South Carolina game earlier in the season. "This game was like deja vu."
While he was clearly disappointed, Luke sounded a lot like his touchdown-catching teammate Collins when asked how the team would bounce back. "We've got to respond to the obstacles, and I think we're going to respond positively. We've just got to do what we're supposed to do."
Luke said the play that led to his touchdown catch ended a little differently during the game than it had been ending during practice. "We ran that play in practice and Tyler was hitting the tight end all the time. But I was open in the back of the end zone." Luke got open again during the game, Watts hit him for the touchdown, and the drive was complete.
Now the team just needs to complete a fourth quarter as well as it did that drive. Until it does, Tide efforts, like Vaught-Hemingway, will be ugly and incomplete.