Watching and listening to several UT talking heads trying to make heads or tails on how Tennessee could lose by 25 to Vanderbilt, I kept hearing, “Vanderbilt just wanted it more.” I find this very hard to believe.
By Don Yates
First off, I do believe Vandy wanted to win this game badly but I also think Tennessee was highly motivated to win the game as well.
Why would Tennessee not be motivated to finish with a non-losing record? Why would the Vols not care about beating a rival that most on the team had never defeated? Why would they want to miss a bowl game? Why would the Vols not want to avoid finishing in the cellar of the SEC East?
The UT crowd was smaller than Vanderbilt’s, not by too much, but they were clearly louder. UT’s players put some viscous hits on Commodores early in the game. Some of those hits were in violation of the rules, ie., targeting. There probably should have been at least one more targeting call. That’s an indicator of a team hell bent on winning.
The “Vanderbilt just wanted it more?” philosophy is just an excuse to take away from the Commodores’ lopsided win. The Vol talking heads were really saying, “Vanderbilt is not as good as us. They just wanted it more.” Vanderbilt in fact, has a pretty good football team. They came close to beating one of the teams that will likely be in the playoff on its home field. They also played several other ranked teams very close.
It’s too bad we can’t have Kyle Shurmur and some of the other guys back for another season. I have an idea. The APR bowls accommodation for five win programs that do best at graduating players is no longer a benefit to these schools. This is due to the lack of available bowl games. The NCAA should go another route in awarding these schools. Allow the top five FBS APR ranked teams to select five seniors on their squad who can stay one additional year to do graduate work. Of course, some of the players would opt to go on to the pros but imagine having several of this great group of seniors back for 2019.
Derek Mason is here to stay if he wants and I believe that he will. He is an original guy who really loves his players. He is winning with the players he recruited. That’s saying something.
Vandy does lose a lot to graduation this season but we see quality young players coming down the pipeline. Guys like C.J. Bolar, Amir Abdur-Rahman and Randall Haynie come to mind. I’m sure there will be several redshirt freshmen next season that come in and play well. It’s great that they’ll have two spring practices to get better before the season starts.
I hope at this time next season we are again hearing the words, “Vanderbilt just wanted it more.” We all know that Vanderbilt is really just the better football team.