Devil's Advocate (UT)

When a golfer birdies the last hole in a round of golf - no matter what his final score might have been - he'll be a lot more confident when he steps to the first tee for his next round.

The same holds true in football. When a team plays a great fourth quarter - no matter what the final score might have been - it will be a lot more confident when it trots onto the field for the next game.

That's why the Tennessee Vols will be a dangerous team this Saturday against Georgia, even though they are coming off a 26-22 loss to Auburn that dropped their season record to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in SEC play.

That's because the Vols scored 16 fourth-quarter points. Never mind that they were behind 23-6 when they launched the rally. Never mind that Auburn was essentially playing a prevent defense. Never mind that the last touchdown came on the game's final play ... just ahead of the final gun.

None of that mattered. All that mattered was this: A Tennessee offense that has struggled to produce points all season put up 16 of them in the final 11:36. That's encouraging.

"Yes, it is very encouraging," head coach Lane Kiffin said this week. "I would much rather have ended on a strong note than maybe have had a really good first quarter, then not play very well on offense the whole second half and have to go back and figure out what went wrong. It's good we finished as well as we did."

Senior center Cody Sullins thinks so, too. He believes last weekend's late rally gives the Vols a lift as they approach this weekend's tussle with Georgia.

"Yeah, it does," he said. "That whole fourth quarter we scored 16 points. That shows you our team didn't quit. We kept fighting till the end. That's something we can always carry to the next week."

No one can accuse Tennessee of not fighting till the end. No matter what the score might be, the Vols have consistently finished well. They've outscored their first five foes 59-13 in the final period.

"We have been a very good fourth-quarter team this year," Kiffin said. "We have the largest fourth-quarter margin in the SEC. That's something that is very special to us because we talk all the time about being a fourth-quarter team, being physical, being conditioned, and being able to win games in the fourth quarter.

"Now we have to win them."

Don't be surprised if the Vols start doing so this Saturday against Georgia. Having birdied the last hole, they are stepping to the first tee brimming with confidence.


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