Joe Walkins began answering that question a little prematurely in the final minutes of the Tigers' 31-14 loss to the Orangemen. With less than four minutes remaining, Walkins returned a Mike Shafer punt 48 yards to the Syracuse 36-yard line. The return had little to do with the outcome of that game, but what effect it has on the outcome of the Tigers' remaining contests has yet to be seen.
"I think it showed, not only for me, but for the whole special teams, Coach Gran and Coach Knox that work with the special teams, that we have some young guys, but we are not quitters," Walkins says. "We are going to fight 'til the end. Not only did I make a play, but the other 10 players on the field made a play. Without them I wouldn't have been able to make a return. That just shows a lot of character, to not give up and want to still make plays even though we are getting beat."
The rest of the Tigers got the message as well. Three plays later Chris Butler scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 21-yard screen pass from Jason Campbell.
Walkins' return served as a good morale booster for a team that needed something to build on after turning the ball over five times and being whistled for 10 penalties. He says the Tigers are all competitive and want to win, but they can't dwell on the loss. "This an SEC game we are about to play against Vanderbilt and now we have to take the mistakes and the things we did wrong and work on them this week," Walkins notes. "A lot of people are pumped about practice and we're going to have a good week of pratice and hopefully go to Tennessee and have a good game."
The five-foot-nine wide receiver began to answer one question, but he has 60 more minutes of playing time ahead of him and his teammates Saturday night to make that answer a definitive one. Walkins says it will take a total team effort and "that is what it is all about."