Was last season's 5-6 record a hint of things to come or a one-year aberration?
Can the Vols bounce back from last season?
That's exactly what the Vols did on
Saturday. It's only one step, but at this point a 35-18 victory over
The Vols played like a team on a mission, with a purpose that often appeared to be missing last season.
"We expected to win this ball game
"I think it started on the opening kickoff," defensive coordinator John Chavis said. "That was a devastating blow. It was unbelievable, and I think our kids just fed off that. Special teams set the tone for our entire football team."
"I looked at him as he came off the field, and he knew exactly what had happened," Fulmer said. "I watched him while he was getting ready to go back. His demeanor never changed. That's a big plus for Erik.
"Sometimes there are experiences that we have that aren't so pleasant that we grow from, if we're the right kind of person, and Erik has grown considerably."
Even the fans did their part, filling Neyland Stadium with 106,009 fans, enthusiastic support for the home team and plenty of noise for the visitors.
"We've never seen anything like
that. That's a pretty impressive atmosphere, there's no doubt about it,"
In the process, the Vols finally took a step toward reclaiming Neyland as their own after going 0-6 against top-10 teams at home since 2000. Many of those fans stayed to the end, eager to put aside the final game of the 2005 season when the Vols lost to Vanderbilt on their own field.
"I think we've felt disrespected
and talked bad about since last season, as we expected," Ainge said. "We would
expect nothing else after going 5-6 at the
"This game wasn't just for
The performance and the outcome
made it evident that many Vols took last season personally. If
That might catch the rest of us off guard, but it won't surprise the Vols.
"I'm very, very proud of our football team," Fulmer said. "I can't sit here, though, and say I didn't expect it. We've been pointing toward this."
Some of the most intriguing stories from the first week of SEC football involved who played and who didn't.
The standards and expectations
appear to be different at
For days before Arkansas' season opener against USC, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt made it appear there was little chance sophomore tailback Darren McFadden would play against USC due to the lingering ill effects of a toe injury.
"He started running full speed on Tuesday," Nutt said. "He surprised me how quickly he recovered. We knew he wouldn't be ready for his normal 25 or 30 carries but we got the ‘okay' from his doctors and decided to take a chance. We knew he would be involved in the game and not have a chance to re-injure his toe."
Never mind that McFadden was
somehow able to mend quickly enough to start and play in the game. Anyone
remember how he broke his toe in the first place? Kicking someone repeatedly
during a parking lot brawl outside a seedy
"I was just glad to be back out there with the team," McFadden said. "I was glad to be on the field."
Of course he was. The same could be
Simpson's status for the opener has
been in doubt ever since a May 20 arrest in
Very few people (if any) seemed to
know if Simpson would play against
"I really didn't know what to
expect," Simpson said after the
Shula finally spoke about the subject on Saturday, saying, "Juwan has been great since everything's happened," Shula said. "We all know what happened but he's worked really hard, and I think he's worked hard to prove himself to his teammates, No. 1, and his coaches. We're going to need his leadership."
After spending the opener beating
up on Division I-AA Western Kentucky Georgia enters a more volatile game at
Senior Joe Tereshinski earned his
second career start in the opener and did some positive things, completing an
18-yard touchdown pass to Mario Raley for
"I thought he did a nice job,"
Quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo told the Athens Banner-Herald that Tereshisnki "managed the game well. He was high on a couple (passes), but overall I thought he played well."
The big lead also allowed
"That last drive, I don't know if it was a lightning bolt, but it was a good sign," Richt said.
A good sign of what? Of a change at the quarterback situation? At this point it's probably too early for Richt to make a change, but you can bet Georgia fans will be clamoring for Stafford or Cox if Tereshinski struggles against a South Carolina defense that gave Mississippi State fits in last Thursday's 15-0 Gamecock victory in Starkville.
"The quarterback situation? Right
now Joe T. is definitely No. 1, and we'll just compete to see who's No. 2,"
Richt said. "If
Or, could those reps possibly be in
the best interests of
"He deserved to play," Bobo said of
Richard Scott is a Birmingham-based sports writer, author and weekly columnist in Tiger Rag magazine. Reach him at RScottfree@aol.com.