Give me leadership

Some fans have questioned the leadership on Tennessee's football team. You can question the leadership on offense, but don't question it on defense.

After preseason All-American defensive back Jason Allen suffered a season-ending hip injury against Georgia, he was on the sideline with crutches, exhorting his teammates during the Alabama game.

Middle linebacker Kevin Simon didn't practice all week and wasn't supposed to play against Memphis. He played through pain to register a team-high 12 tackles.

Now, we find out senior outside linebacker Jason Mitchell suffered a knee injury in the season opener, didn't learn until the week of the Georgia game he had a torn ACL and a torn MCL in his left knee, yet played through the pain.

Why? Because Tennessee football means the world to this Louisiana native. Because he loves college football more than pro football, even though his older brother, Brandon, has been an eight-year NFL veteran.

Contrast that to the lack of leadership on offense. Tennessee receiver Jayson Swain grumbled this season that a middle school team could defense the Vols. Swain is one of several receivers who have underachieved this season. The offensive line has been average. The running backs have fumbled too much. The fullback has fumbled and dropped passes.

And the senior starting quarterback, who is also a captain, said he almost quit the team before the LSU game, then said after the Memphis game that whether he plays or not, at this point, he doesn't care anymore.

Thank goodness the offense has guard Rob Smith, who has fought through injuries to start 22 consecutive games.

By the way, of the 26 seniors who will run through the `T' for the last time, 19 are on scholarship and three played in the state of Tennessee: Gerald Riggs, Jason Hall and Jake Finlayson. Hall is from Marietta, Ga., but played at Chattanooga McCallie.


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