Randy Smith: Snake-Bit Vols Continue To Struggle

Monday, November 6, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
When red-shirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano suffered an ankle injury in the first half of the Vols game with Southern Miss on Saturday night, I wondered who Coach Butch Jones would insert into the lineup. I didn't have to wait long to discover that true freshman Will McBride would burn his redshirt with three plays. Just moments after McBride entered the lineup, television commentators all across the board would be criticizing Coach Jones, though it's easy to see he really had no choice.
With injuries stacking up like a scene from a World War II movie, the Vols needed a full-time coach on the sidelines just to replace injured starters.

When the game started Tennessee was down to just seven offensive linemen, with three of them being true freshmen. It's a miracle the Volunteers were able to hold off Southern Miss for a 24-10 win, but credit a solid performance by the defensive unit for this homecoming victory. I would never call a win an "ugly" win but this one came about as close as possible. Let's just stop short and call it "unsightly."

Tennessee is now only two wins away from bowl eligibility with three games remaining. Two of the last three games for the Volunteers are both winnable but it will take a supreme effort to be able to reach that 6-6 mark. First up is Missouri; a team that a few weeks ago was considered to be the SEC's worst team. After claiming a 45-16 win over the hapless Florida Gators on Saturday, that is no longer the case and the Tigers may be awfully tough to beat in Columbia this weekend. 

Next would be LSU on November 18th at Neyland Stadium and I see no way the Vols will be able to get a win over the Bengal Tigers; not even if Coach Jones snuck Peyton Manning in the lineup to play quarterback. Then the season comes to a merciful ending with a home game against Vanderbilt; a team that has won two of the last three meetings with the Big Orange. 

Playing in a bowl game is important for college football teams because it gives them three extra weeks of practice and for young teams like Tennessee that is extremely critical. At 4-5 with three games left it's possible but how probable is it for Tennessee to reach that 6-6 record? I'm sure that the Las Vegas odds makers would give anyone a line on it who wanted to bet either way.

So, the 2017 season has come down to this. Finishing the year 6-6 is not exactly what Tennessee fans wanted or expected when the season started, though most of them would take it. If you look the term "snake-bit" up in the dictionary, you will find, "characterized by bad luck or a series of misfortunes." That's a perfect way to describe the last two years under Butch Jones at Tennessee.  In fact with a few exceptions, that's the way you could describe the Tennessee football program since 2008; the year they fired Phillip Fulmer. 

 

* * *

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.





Cleveland Wrestlers Win Two At Duals

The Cleveland wrestling team earned two dual meet wins on Wednesday in the Cleveland Duals.   The Red Raiders beat William Blount 57-12 and Jefferson County 67-9. Cleveland (CLEV) 57.00 William Blount (WIBL) 12.00 285: Titus Swafford (CLEV) over Christian  Lovell (WIBL) (Fall 2:00) 106: trae McDaniel (CLEV) over diego robinson (WIBL) (Fall 1:58) 113: Jackson ... (click for more)

Randy Smith: A Special Thanksgiving

I have always written about things I am thankful for at Thanksgiving. In 2017 however, that subject has special significance. Suddenly going through open heart surgery in the summer will do that to you. I am thankful for so many more things now; things that I perhaps took for granted in the past. Here is my list, though I would have to write a complete book to get everything in ... (click for more)

Walker County Asks Dismissal Of Erlanger Lawsuit Asking Court To Order New Taxes For Payment Of $8.7 Million Debt

Walker County, Ga., is asking the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Erlanger Health System that asks a federal judge to order the levying of taxes to pay an $8.7 million debt. Walker County noted that new Commissioner Shannon Whitfield has imposed a special tax levy on its citizens designed to satisfy the debt. It also says that Commissioner Whitfield held several meetings with ... (click for more)

Man Charged In Hamilton Place Firecracker Incident Gets 3-Year Federal Prison Sentence

A man who was among those charged with setting off firecrackers inside Hamilton Place Mall to cover up a robbery has been sentenced to serve three years in federal prison. Garrian King, 23, appeared before Federal Judge Curtis Collier. The sentence will be consecutive to any time King receives on charges he still faces in state court. He is charged with three counts of possession ... (click for more)

Stormwater Fiasco And East Ridge Camping

When did the Chattanooga City Council get replaced by members of the East Ridge City Council? I don't recall a time in Chattanooga where they've voted to shoot the city in the foot more than they have lately.  If this goes through despite the environmental impact warnings and then Camp Jordan has increased flooding after spending millions on sports ball fields, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanksgiving Eve

I don’t know who was the first to do the Famous Pregnant Turkey prank but I’ll bet you a handful of giblets there will be a lot of copycats who try it today. The trick is finding a Cornish hen that is small enough to stuff inside the larger turkey. Then you skillfully pack the bird with some of that sausage-sage dressing and put your Thanksgiving dinner in the oven. When all ... (click for more)