Vols do the unexpected ... again

A bizarre regular season ended on an appropriately bizarre note for Tennessee's football team Saturday at The Georgia Dome.

Trying to establish a form sheet for this team is an exercise in futility. There is nothing consistent about the Vols except their inconsistency. The one thing you can always expect from them is the unexpected. Consider:

- A team that had to rely on a productive offense to offset a porous defense for most of 2007 saw the reverse be true in Atlanta. The stop unit showed up big-time, limiting mighty LSU to one offensive touchdown and two field goals. Meanwhile, the attack unit scarcely showed up at all, generating just 93 yards of total offense in the first half and squandering two golden opportunities to tie the score in the closing minutes.

- A senior quarterback who had played remarkably mistake-free football for 12 games threw two fourth-quarter interceptions – the first surrendering a 14-13 lead and the second sealing the Vols' doom.

- A freshman place-kicker who had been downright deadly through the first 12 games missed badly on a 29-yard field goal attempt and barely missed a 51-yarder later in the game.

- A resourceful team that was 3-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less couldn't come through in the clutch this time.

The result: A 21-14 loss to LSU in the SEC Championship Game that left coaches, players, media and fans scratching their heads ... as usual.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer, speaking on his post-game show, was thrilled with the effort of his much-maligned defensive unit but less than pleased with the work of his offensive unit.

"We held 'em in check really well," he said of the Vol defense. "They (Tigers) had some yards but when they got down close, they just couldn't get it in."

The head man described the play of UT's attack unit as "very erratic," noting: "We didn't have anything consistent going on. We made enough plays to have a chance to tie it at the end and go into overtime ... but you can't do what we did in the first half – when we run 22 offensive plays – and expect our defense to hold a team like LSU in check the whole time."

To recap:

Tennessee was expected to wilt after getting blown out 59-20 at Florida. Instead, the Vols won three games in a row, including a 35-14 blowout of a nationally ranked Georgia team.

Tennessee was expected to throw in the towel after getting hammered 41-17 at Alabama. Instead, the Vols won five games in a row, including a 34-13 pasting of a good Arkansas team.

Tennessee was expected to put up some points against an LSU defense whose superstar tackle Glenn Dorsey was hurting. It didn't. The Vols managed just two scores on eight trips into LSU territory, going 0 for 2 in the last seven minutes.

Tennessee was supposed to give up some points against an LSU offense that was averaging 40.2 points per game. It didn't. The Tigers scored almost as many points off UT's offense (8) as they did off UT's defense (13).

Perhaps you're wondering: What can fans expect from Tennessee in its bowl game?

Who the heck knows?


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