Vengeance is sweet for Banks

Three full steps after missing a pass over the middle in last Saturday's game at Alabama, Vol receiver James Banks was decked by an unpenalized late hit from Tide linebacker Derrick Pope.

Banks lay on the turf for perhaps 30 seconds before finally regaining his feet and trudging to the sidelines. He would not get mad; he WOULD get even.

Three plays after being laid out by Pope, Banks caught a six-yard touchdown pass that tied the score at 34-all in double overtime. On the very next play -- the first play of the third overtime -- he caught a 25-yard touchdown pass.

Take that, Derrick Pope.

Given the fact Banks caught touchdown passes on two of the next four plays after sustaining the cheap shot from Pope, you wonder: Has Tennessee's staff considered knocking the crap out of Banks just before kickoff this week?

''Oh, yeah,'' offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said with a laugh. ''I've thought about it a lot. James is a competitor, so maybe that (late hit from Pope) woke him up a little bit.''

Banks finished the Bama game with seven catches for 103 yards and the two touchdowns. However, he also dropped several catchable balls.

''It was out of the ordinary for him to drop that many balls,'' Sanders said. ''I don't expect him to do that and he doesn't expect to do that. It hasn't been a problem with James, and it better not become one.

''He's making improvement but he's still got improvements to make. If he catches those five balls he dropped, we might not go to overtime. That's where he's got to grow and improve.

''James is a lot like our defense: When it gets down to where you've got to do it, he gets it done. When the game's not on the line, sometimes his intensity lags a little bit.''


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