Tennessee football opener: Veeeeek! Veeeeek! Veeeeek!

Marvin Westwestwords

Try to remain calm. Don’t go near the crowd at the transfer portal. Avoid premature panic. There will be plenty of time in October for a nervous breakdown.

I will now provide temporary perspective. This may not have been Jeremy Pruitt’s signature game. Things could get worse. What if future foes are stronger than Georgia State?

Set aside a moment of prayer for Phillip Fulmer. He bet the farm on this restoration project without a money-back guarantee.

Accept the fact that Jarrett Guarantano has been eliminated from Heisman Trophy consideration, that the defensive front has a few problems and that the new offense netted minus two yards rushing in the second half.

For some strange reason, Tennessee fans didn’t seem all that surprised. They have endured a decade of abuse.

I searched for words to describe the Saturday mess. Against all odds, I found them in former Vol Arian Foster’s Pterodactyl vocabulary: “Veeeeek! Veeeeek! Veeeeek!”

I think the interpretation is horrendously horrible or just plain awful or maybe help, help, help.

The Vols were favored by 26 points. Before this, Southeastern Conference teams had won 82 straight as heavy favorites. Some say this was the worst upset defeat in the history of college football, much worse than the time Appalachian State stunned Michigan.

If that is over the edge, the loss was at least the most embarrassing ever for Tennessee, worse than what-is-a-rutgers and long-ago tumbles before North Texas State, Wyoming and Memphis State. The previous most infamous upset was Chattanooga, 1958, but only 20,200 saw that. The little ugly was not on TV. And, Tennessee won the post-game fight.

For sure, this was the worst loss so far this season. It was pretty bad. I hate to say it was worse than what Butch Jones did to us – but it was.

Tennessee’s football team appeared disinterested in the last two games of 2018. This was a continuation. The Vols tried but there was little or no passion. Execution was really fuzzy. Can you believe the defensive ends once lined up on the same side?

The scramble of linemen made it appear the coaches haven’t decided who is best. Negative body language emerged when the Panthers surged ahead.

After months and months of strength development, proper diet and improved conditioning, our Vols did not look strong. After so much high-priced instruction, they didn’t seem to know what they were doing. They never figured out the simple spacing in the Georgia State offensive line and they had never seen the options in the zone read.

After the great recruiting roundup, after transforming the roster, these Vols did not appear as talented as the lowly Panthers, 2-10 last season, losers of seven in a row, picked for the bottom end of the Sun Belt Conference.

There was nothing quirky about the outcome. As Pruitt said, the better team won.

“Blocking, tackling, execution, they done all that today. And throw in coaching, too.”

Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said, “We were in better physical condition. We wore them down in the trenches.”

Elliott got in a little dig at the SEC promotional slogan.

“They say the SEC just means more. Today’s game meant more to us!”

Tennessee was obviously poorly prepared. Fear of injury may have limited tough, vigorous practice. Coaches may have sneaked a peek at Brigham Young or Florida. Players may have heard cupcake talk and completely overlooked the visitors.

Regular reader-writer Virgil Mincy was very interesting.

“Good news: We did not show Florida anything. Bad news: We did not show Georgia State anything, either. Unprepared, uninspired, pure ugly. That there were no riots in Knoxville would seem due to the apathy of fans. Why bother?”

Regular reader-writer David Irwin said: “At daybreak on Aug. 31, 2019, the Georgia State Panthers were ranked 119 in the CBS top 130. Tennessee ranked 58th, slightly above average, statistically speaking.

“By sundown, mediocrity had devolved into incompetence and the unheralded newcomer had prevailed over the ghost of a once proud football program.”

That’s pretty much what happened.

The Vols did not offer excuses. They tried to explain. Senior safety Nigel Warrior said Georgia State “had more want-to than we did.”

Senior wide receiver Marquez Callaway said it was a lack of execution.

“Georgia State did what it was supposed to do. We didn’t and it resulted in us losing.”

Added Warrior: “This is on us.”

Senior outside linebacker Darrell Taylor didn’t think the Vols played hard enough. He wasn’t sure they were “mentally prepared” for what Georgia State did.

Comments from one of my favorite forums were more emotional: Sickening, disgusting, appalling … When does basketball season start? … Tickets for sale, Section O, row 9, four together, make an offer.

No more skipping golf on Saturdays … This is a very bad team … At least we hung with them for a half … I guess we can stop worrying about Alabama hiring Pruitt to replace Saban.

Veeeeek! Veeeeek! Veeeeek!

The Georgia State game was an all-time bad loss for Tennessee. The truly alarming part is how bad this season could become if the Volunteers don’t change their ways.

No, no, Pruitt’s job is not in jeopardy but there certainly is a legitimate question of whether he is a head coach. Nothing left to do but give him time. He already has the best assistants money can buy.

Marvin West invites reader comments or questions. His address is marvinwest75@gmail.com

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