Roy Exum: ‘Almost’ Never Counts

Monday, October 25, 2021 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Football notes from a Saturday …

It is wonderful that “social media” is all bubbly in the belief Tennessee “almost” beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa this past weekend. But, in reality, the Vol faithful should thank their lucky stars for three most unusual quarters before the Tide, now ranked third in the land, won by 28 points (the betting line was 27½.) The game’s biggest difference was possession time, Alabama controlling the ball by a whopping 40:26 to 19:34 margin to win before a sellout crowd, 52-24.

No wonder Alabama had 31 first downs to Tennessee’s 10. And the reason The Tide outscored the Vols by an ironic 31-10 in the second half (talent excluded) was because the Tennessee defense was playing with its tongues hanging out. UT had 64 yards in total rushing; Alabama had 203. Defensively, UT had 93 tackles; Bama needed only 52. My word, UA just punted three times during the entire game as ‘Bama’s Brian Robinson ran for 107 yards on 26 carries (4.1-yard average). Tiyon Evans was UT’s top runner, 7 carries for 30 yards.

Yes, Tennessee (now 4-4 and 2-3 in conference play) did some good things. QB Hendon Hooker, gutsy when hurt, was superb, going 19-of-28 passing for 282 yards for 3 TDs with just one interception and Cedric Tillman’s receiving was dandy (seven catches for 152 yards and a score.). But look at the Tide’s Bryce Young … 31 strikes on 43 throws for 371 yards, two TDs with no picks. Alabama’s John Metchie caught 11 throws for 212 yards and both TDs. That’s strong.

It was Tennessee’s 15 straight loss to ‘Bama and, while we saw some good things due to circumstance, you need to step back and look at ‘all things’ and the truth is UT was soundly whipped. Thank goodness for an ‘off week’ this Saturday before No. 12 Kentucky (6-1) comes to Neyland Stadium on Nov. 6. UK will play a scrappy Miss. State (4-3) this weekend so pray the Vols will recover with an idle weekend.

* * *

ALABAMA JUMPS TO THIRD IN THE COUNTRY

Unbeaten Oklahoma (8-0) had to rely on desperation before tucking lightly regarded Kansas to bed so the Tide jumped to third in this week’s polls. Mighty Georgia, idle before this Saturday’s “cocktail party” against Florida in Jacksonville, is a solid No. 1 in the polls with No. 2 Cincinnati a 28-20 win over Navy (1-6) Please … Cincinnati is a different atmosphere than Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Ohio State but, alas, I vote no longer:

Just for kicks, let’s look at the top five and predict a regular-season finish:

1. GEORGIA (7-0) – Florida (w), Missouri (w), Tennessee (w), Charleston Southern (w), Ga. Tech (w)

2. CINCINNATI (7-0) – Tulane (w), Tulsa (w), South Fla. (w), No. 19 SMU (L), East Carolina (w)

3. ALABAMA (7-1) – LSU (w), New Mexico State (w), Arkansas (w), No. 18 Auburn (w)

4. OKLAHOMA – Texas Tech (w), No. 16 Baylor (w), No. 22 Iowa State (w), No. 15 Oklahoma State (L)

5. OHIO STATE – No. 20 Penn State (w), Nebraska (w), Purdue (w), No. 8 Michigan State (w), No. 6 Michigan (L)

* * *

REFEREE MISTAKE MARS PRINCETON’S 5 OVERTIME WIN

Ivy League officials announced Sunday that Princeton’s 18-16 win in five overtimes was a mistake, and that Harvard should have won. But now the game is over and it’s too late to say, “I’m sorry.”

This from the Associated Press: “Officials were wrong to wipe out what would have been a game-winning 2-point play in overtime by Harvard after a replay review awarded Princeton a timeout, the Ivy League said Sunday.

After Harvard’s Jack Smith hit Kym Wimberly with a pass to convert the 2-point play in the third overtime period, replay officials ordered a review to see if Princeton coach Bob Surace called timeout before the snap. They ruled he did and replayed the down. Harvard scored again, but that play was called back because of an offensive penalty. On its third try, Harvard was stopped, and the game went two more overtimes.

On Sunday, the Ivy League said officials made a procedural error because a timeout can be awarded by on-field officials only before the ball is snapped. It is not a reviewable situation.

* * *

CLEMSON WOES MOUNT AFTER 27-17 LOSS

Once mighty Clemson ain’t exactly clicking; in six games the prolific Tigers haven’t scored more than 20 points in any of them. Saturday’s 27-17 loss to Pitt has Dabo Swinney seething and quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was benched briefly in the upset loss. The Tigers coach said every job on the unit would be up for grabs in practice this week.

At the start of the season QB Uiagalelei was thought to be a Heisman candidate, but he was actually pulled this weekend for reserve Taisun Phommachanh, (I am not making these names up) before being re-inserted. Clemson, now 4-3, will have a gut check this week before traveling to Florida State.

“Everything's under evaluation at this point," Swinney said. "Everybody's got to show up every day, and we've got to take it one day at a time. We'll practice and see who has the best practice, and that's the guy who'll run out there first at every position."

royexum@aol.com

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