Nick Chubb

Georgia 41, Tennessee 0: And The Walls Came Tumbling Down Brick By Brick

Interception. Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. Fumble. Punt. Interception. Punt. Fumble. Punt.

That’s how Tennessee’s first 11 drives looked on Saturday in a disgraceful 41-0 home loss to Georgia at Neyland Stadium.

Yet, there Quinten Dormady still was, in there as Tennessee’s starting quarterback late in game the Vols were losing to Georgia in a contest that had turned into a stand-up comedy routine by Twitter and with CBS announcers Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson — God bless them — trying to find anything nice to say about the Vols.

A day that started with ESPN’s Gameday crew shredding Butch Jones for his criticism of the media and questionable story regarding Tennessee defensive tackle Shy Tuttle’s face injury ended with pretty much everybody around the nation shredding Jones after the latest Tennessee debacle.

Jarrett Guarantano came in then, with a minute to go in the third quarter, the game far out of reach, the boos already echoing through Neyland Stadium, fans in orange turning on each other and fighting in the stands and everybody pretty much defeatedly agreeing that this is about as bad as it gets.

It isn’t that Guarantano was definitely the answer. He certainly hasn’t proven he is. It’s that the Vols have no answers right now. For anything.

“It was as bad an offensive performance as I’ve ever been a part of in college football,” Jones told the media afterward, “and it’s inexcusable.”

Maybe for the first time in his entire tenure at UT, I didn’t hear any postgame excuses. But these are trying times.

There is talent all over this offense, but first-year [on ANY level] offensive coordinator Larry Scott can’t do anything against a quality defense. The scheme doesn’t match the players. The quarterback doesn’t match the offense. Though there were flashes by UT’s defense at times on Saturday, bad field position, turnovers and simply getting gassed late led to ugly results on the scoreboard.

There is no such thing as style points in a loss like this, but UGA made sure the Vols didn’t have any, regardless.

Even Trevor Daniel suffered through the worst punting game of his life, hitting a Bulldogs lineman with a line drive early in the fourth quarter. This was after, earlier in the game, the Vols gathered a UGA interception in Dawgs territory only to see center Jashon Robertson hike the ball into his own butt, watching the Vols turn the ball right back over to UGA.

Yep. Not only did the Vols embarrass themselves on the scoreboard, they gave the college football world two memes to personify the struggles of this team so far this season. Still, it’s no laughing matter for UT fans.

Fights broke out on the field out of frustration in the fourth quarter, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Darrell Taylor, who was ejected. It was a ridiculous call, but it only fueled the fire that is smoldering around Jones.

When everybody’s to blame, you have to blame Jones.

This is his program, for better or worse at this point. It’s Year 5. When it’s the fifth year and you’re getting demoralized by a divisional rival on your home field in front of a sold-out crowd checkerboarding Neyland Stadium two weeks after you coached your way into a loss against a Florida team you out-classed from a talent perspective, it does not bode well for your regime.

This is a team that turns the football over all the time, including in the most crucial moments of the game. It’s a team that doesn’t have answers, at quarterback or really at any other position, when it’s time to make a play. The goal-line, second-overtime stop of Georgia Tech by Taylor is long in the rear-view after what all we’ve seen in the past few weeks. This is a team that gets penalties, fights with other teams, possibly [depending on whether you believe the rumors] fights with each other, and, most importantly, loses football games in discouraging, disappointing ways. It’s a team whose coaching staff gets out-schemed every week.

What we saw on Saturday was Georgia — a team the Vols have beaten the past two years — not only go past Tennessee in the SEC East but boat-race the Vols along the way. The Vols were already in Florida’s tail lights, and now, they’re behind Georgia as the Bulldogs look like a team that could start a stellar, long-term run with Kirby Smart’s recruiting prowess on full display.

This is the way Alabama beats Tennessee. But when somebody else does it, it’s time to start asking hard questions, even with most of us already have the difficult answer. This is not the way Georgia beats Tennessee. Ever. When it happens, it’s the kind of setback that should make everybody look hard at the program.

This week, you read on this site two articles by two different writers [including yours truly] calling this game a crossroads for Jones. Saturday’s game approached that crossroads and had a head-on collision with reality: This is not getting it done.

Whatever this is, it isn’t the future of the program. If you want to blame that on Butch, that’s totally fair at this point. Make a change.

If it’s on the players, let others play.

It is assuredly not the fans, especially those of us who’ve hung on for a long time. Thinking — knowing — there needs to be a change at this point doesn’t make you a Negavol. It makes you somebody who misses your team playing good, disciplined, hard-nosed football, for drawing up actual plays that gains actual yards, for not beating itself, for not becoming a laughingstock of everybody around, media and opposing fans alike.

On Saturday, the Vols were made a laughingstock by the Bulldogs, who danced and pranced and celebrated on Shields-Watkins Field.

Look: It is not my job to fire Butch Jones, and I won’t do it in this column. That isn’t my place, and it isn’t our intent with what we write within the walls of this blog. But the walls of Tennessee’s program crumbled Saturday, and it’s shameful. Whatever needs to happen needs to happen quickly.

Butch Jones can stand up there in front of everybody and talk about these games being unacceptable and about things needing to turn around and about this team having pride and resiliency and everything else. But they’re just words, and, as we know by Jones’ first five years in Knoxville, he loves those words.

It’s time for action. By him, his players, or by Tennessee’s administration.

5 Comments

  1. I’m not jumping on any firing bandwagon. In fact I sincerely want Jones to succeed, because I’d hate to see him tossed aside for someone else to take the Tennessee he pulled from gutter to the promised land. However, it’s just so dang hard to defend him anymore. Worst loss in 100 years, first shutout in over 20 years. Even though 3-2 starting out is what was expected by the media, it’s how those games were played and it’s going to bite them when they lose a game they should win.

    For instance if SC beats Tennessee after two weeks of prep then I’m stepping aside so that the squeaky wheels can make their say.

    However, if Butch can actually make the adjustments needed and gets an actual capable offense together then there’s plenty of wins left on the table. Missouri and Southern Miss are still our easiest games left. UK and SC continue to look beatable. LSU just lost their homecoming game. Vandy looks like the toughest out of the remaining East games, but we can still win it. With anything resembling an offensive pulse we could realistically get 8 or dare I say 9 wins this season.

    Bottom line is Butch controls his own destiny. He has the power to keep his job. Not the past four years, nor the recruiting class, nor the media, nor the fans, but Butch has the ability this season by beating the teams he should win. If he does that he will have a successful 2017 with a couple blemishes.

    If that’s accomplished the biggest offseason question will be if Larry Scott is still the OC, Butch trusts putting his job on the line in 2018 or will he learn his lesson and pursue someone more accomplished.

    • This is about where I am. As bad as today was, I still think the Vols could get to 8 or 9 wins. Everyone left on the schedule not named Alabama does not exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents.

      The offense has shown glimpses of being able to move the ball. I have no idea why they cannot do it consistently. They now have two weeks to get it figured out.

      I also think the UGA loss will be viewed differently after the season. There is a good chance Bama and UGA blow out everyone in the SEC, except for maybe UGA on the road at Auburn. If so, then those two meet in Atlanta at a combined 24-0 or 23-1.

      The next four weeks likely determine Butch’s fate. If he comes out 0-3, he may not see the end of the season. If he goes 2-1, there is a real shot the Vols could run the table.

    • Absolutely. It’s not that we lost against FL and GA, it’s how we lost. CBJ needs to get the offense figured out fast. Not sure if it’s the QB or the play calling (or if the QB is limiting the play calling). The defense seems capable, at least until it’s worn down from being on the field so much. I’m worried about the morale of the players at this point more than anything. Last night, that seemed to be a big issue to me. The offense appeared to be lost and Kelly just looked upset and frustrated. I don’t know a lot about the different types of plays, but from what I saw, it didn’t appear that they “opened the playbook up” to me. If they did, it was a very small playbook. (Please correct me if I’m wrong). From my perspective , it was the same plays they been running the past 4 games, run up the middle the 1st down, run/pass to the side the 2nd (or run up the middle again), throw downfield the 3rd to try to get out of the hole and miss, then punt.

  2. People WAKE THE F##K UP !!!!

    Butch has had a top 15 recruiting class every year but has never finished in the top 15.

    Tennessee is a top 12 job but does anyone really think that Butch is one of the 12 best coaches in college football? HELL NO he is NOT !!!

    Let this sink in. VOLS ARE THE THIRD BEST TEAM IN THE STATE OF TENNESSEE THE LAST FEW YEARS.

    Anyone think that the Vols will beat Bama,UFA,UGA and Auburn next year? Nope not I so that means at best next year Vols will be 8-4 but more likely 7-5. What excuse will Butch apologist use next year.

    Our 3 toughest opponents Bama,UGA and UF are only getting better so we start every year from now on 9-3 at best . So are we OK settling for that. If yes sure keep Butch. If not go out and hire a coach that can get us over the hump.

    My top 3 are
    1: Chris Peterson (pay him 6 mil and he will come)
    2: Chip Kelly
    3:Bobby Petrino (pay him 6 mil and he will come)

  3. I’m not sure what to say about the game. I honestly haven’t watched a down of Vol football since the end of the first half of the GT game, and haven’t tuned in via any means since listening to the Florida game on the radio, when we kept throwing passes from within the Florida 1.

    What I’d like to hear from others is whether or not we should be concerned about the internecine fighting in the stands the interwebs is showing. It’s like the rest of the CFB world isn’t sure to laugh at us or shake its collective head in pity.

    One time, years ago, I was in the Georgia bar in Athens on a Saturday evening when Georgia had an away game, so the place was really quiet and chill. That made it easy to notice when a guy got in a heated argument with his girlfriend, and though I think she “started” it, the guy was so enraged and physically intimidating in his reaction that he came within a hairsbreadth of assault and had to be escorted out. It made everyone in the place feel embarrassed and a little ashamed.

    That’s kind of how I feel watching our fans tripping and stumbling down the bleachers at each other’s throats. I understand the how the situation developed, but don’t think there’s any excuse for the behavior.

    I only go to a game every four years or so, so I’m not sure if this is just one of those things that happens because: alcohol, or if it’s a sign of something more.

    To be clear, I’m not suggesting Butch or the team Bear any responsibility for the behavior of drunks that can’t hold their liquor in public, but I do know I’ve never seen UT fans fight amongst themselves in the stands at the games I’ve attended.

    I guess my question is should the administration take these video snippets into account as they consider Butch’s future, or am I making a big deal out of something that routinely happens with all big football programs?

    Thanks for bearing with the ramble.

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