Still on a high from yesterday’s tremendous game and feeling the aftereffects of the postgame celebrating, as well as having yet to get home and watch the replay of the game, this post will lack much organization. Not to steal 66’s format, but this will be a compilation of random thoughts that occur to me as I think back upon yesterday, touching upon the fans, atmosphere, scores I caught from around the country and well, the game so here we go.
- The Tennessee fans are as classy and nice as they come. It was like Notre Dame all over again (and the finish of the game coming dangerously close). The fans were great all weekend, stopping me just to ask questions about our team and always wishing us well afterwards. I was invited to tailgates before the game. After the game, despite their Vols having lost, the UT fans were literally patting me on the back as I walked away from the stadium to congratulate us. I didn’t think anyone could match the Notre Dame fans in South Bend, but the Vol faithful were as good as it gets.
- Just because they’re as gracious as they come doesn’t mean the Vol fans don’t love their team. As I walked Knoxville on Friday, I saw UT flags hanging from storefronts and everything and everyone was orange. On game day, everywhere you went, it was a sea of orange. They’re everywhere and seeing the boats coming down the Tennessee River filled with fans in orange was quite the scene. Once you get into the stadium, the orange is overwhelming. It looked like a big orange wall that just went straight up. Nobody leaves their seats for food or anything either. The place is packed to the gills at kickoff, seats don’t go empty during the game and they’re all back inside by the second half kickoff. Those Vol fans are loud too. Damn loud. People often say, "man, playing in front of 100,000 is going to be tough with all that noise," but I assure you that you can’t really comprehend how loud 100,000 is until you’re there. I thought I knew, but I didn’t really. It’s overwhelming, intimidating and anything else you can think of, making what our boys did all that more impressive.
- While the Vol fans were amazing, I’ve got to give credit to our Bruin fans. I’ve never seen so many Bruin fans travel for a game before. The number of Bruins in Knoxville rivaled that of those in attendance for games in the Bay Area. These Bruin fans weren’t quiet either. All the Bruin blue around downtown Knoxville prior to the game, then in Neyland was good to see and I think everyone had a hell of a time. After the game, when the stadium was emptying out and the player came over to celebrate in front of the lower level Bruin section, the eight claps and chants of UC-LA were great to hear as the players joined in.
- The big upset of the day was Houston taking down Oklahoma St. in Stillwater, OK. That Houston team is pretty young and don’t forget that we play them next year, in 2011 and 2012.
- Taylor Mays is a heck of an athlete and Rahim Moore is playing out of his mind, but Eric Berry is the best safety in the country without a question, in my opinion. Seeing him up close, how fast he is and how smart he is a sight to behold. The guy is absolutely amazing. I’d seen him on TV multiple times so I knew why the guy was considered one of the best safeties in the country, but seeing him up close is something else. Rahim is only a sophomore though so who knows what he’ll end up being, but I know what Berry is and that’s the best defensive back I’ve ever seen in person.
- Traveling with Fan Travel (who I’ve traveled with before and just like always, was tremendous. I’d recommend any Bruin fan use them.), I was lucky enough to stay in the same hotel as the team and my impressions from seeing them and talking to some of them is that this team really has a good time and enjoys being with each other. They spent a lot of time joking and laughing as they hung out in the lobby or were making their way to and from buses. It looks like they’re a pretty close knit team that keeps each other pretty loose, but by the time they left for the game, the smiles were gone and it was all business.
- I also managed to make my way over to where they were getting off the bus at Neyland prior to the game and there was a funny moment from Jess Ward. All the players were getting off the bus and they would high five someone if they put their hand out, but everyone had their headphones on and already had their game faces on so they moved quickly into the stadium without stopping. All did so, except for Jess Ward who made his way over to the barriers to give his mom a hug I heard a woman behind me say "that’s right, you always make time for mom," which made Jess laugh and give a nod off in her direction.
- Why we decided to roll Kevin Prince out on third down at the end is beyond me. All it took was a sneak to make sure there was no safety, then you let 40 seconds run off the clock before taking a safety. After the Dorrell era, it’s almost refreshing to see us try to end the game right there with one first down, but no, I think it was the wrong play. You kill time, then turn the game over to the defense, which was great against the pass all game.
- After the fumble and touchdown the very next play, we could have easily gone away and folded, but our seniors wouldn’t let us. Right after that touchdown, Terrance Austin called the offense together for a talk and Reggie Carter called the defense together. We’re young, but our seniors are doing all they can. Hats off to them.
- I’d like to take a minute and pat myself on the back a little bit. In my three keys, I said that special team would be big and we got 12 points from special team and covered well to help out field position. I also mentioned that the first five minutes of the second half would be key and if we won those five minutes, we’d win the game. In the comments of that thread, I said that the defense would be called upon at the end for a stop, not the offense and I was correct. That’s three pretty good calls. I’ve now used my allotment for the season so disregard any prognostications I make from this point forward.
- Southern BBQ is fantastic. Can we schedule another game down here sometime soon? Oh well, we have Texas next year and Nebraska coming up in a bit. The road game BBQ will live on!
- Technology was not my friend this weekend. My phone was not getting service for a while, the computer was uncooperative and my camera and I did not get along. As a result I wasn’t able to meet up with a couple BNers that I had planned on meeting and my camera only worked for a couple shots of the town on Friday. I was able to get a few pictures on game day, but only with my iPhone camera so the quality isn’t great. Stupid technology.
That’s all from me for now and I apologize for the lack of depth or organization, but my head is still spinning. I’m sure I left some things out, but uclahy did a remarkable job telling his experience, which mirrored mine. I’ll post the few pictures I have in the next day or two and if I can find a moment of quality analysis when watching the replay of the game, I may have further thoughts on the game. Enjoy this week Bruins.
It was a heck of a win and while we’re still going to have some bumps in a road, this could be the win that we look back on in a few years and say "that’s when we knew our program had ‘it.’" We can bask in this one for a bit, but as I’m sure the coaches will be quick to let the players know, this win doesn’t mean squat if we lay an egg when K-State comes to town on Saturday. Until next time Bruins (sorry to ESPN for ignoring their request of 42 USC mentions per post and proclaiming Matt Barkley as Joe Montana x2).