Dan Fleser: Bayou Weirdness Ahead For The Vols

  • Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The kickoff for Tennessee’s football game at LSU on Saturday is all wrong by bayou standard time.

The Tigers typically prowl their stadium and stalk their opponents by moonlight. The atmosphere, no matter how hostile it will be for a 11 a.m. (central time) start, won’t match the decibel level of a night game, when the setting typically is fueled by a full day of . . . er, well . . . motivation on the rocks.

To make matters even weirder, the Vols will be wearing their smokey grey alternate jerseys, pants and helmets for the first time on the road. They haven’t worn the uniforms anywhere since 2017.

The unusual circumstances will call to mind Tennessee’s last two visits to Baton Rouge, when the actual competition produced the weirdness.2010: It’s been 12 years since Tennessee last played in Tiger Stadium.

The unbalanced nature of the SEC schedule doesn’t seem right. In this case, the span of time at least has afforded Vol fans a chance to forget the agonizing ending.

Coming off a two-overtime scare of a victory versus UAB that season, the then-2-2 Vols forced four turnovers against the undefeated Tigers. Down 14-10, LSU drove to Tennessee’s one-yard line. With just seconds left, the Tigers had one final play left. And the center snap sailed over quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s head.

Play blown. Game over. Pandemonium reigns.

But only for a moment.

Along with the jubilant Vols, who rushed in from their sideline, there also was a penalty flag on the field. As it turned out, there also were a lot of Vols on the field for that final play, 13 by the official’s count.

Given a second chance, LSU scored on an untimed play and prevailed 16-14 with zero seconds on the game clock.

2005: Tennessee quarterback Rick Clausen had transferred from LSU and said he really didn’t want to be back in Baton Rouge. But there he was at the game’s end, heaving the football into the LSU student section after throwing for 196 yards and accounting for two touchdowns. He led Tennessee back from a three-touchdown deficit to a 30-27 overtime victory.

“Everybody makes comments and said, ‘I transferred to Tennessee because I wasn’t good enough to play here,’ ’’ Clausen said.

Said then-UT coach Phillip Fulmer: “I don’t know if there’s a better story in the world than what this guy has done.”

Clausen came on in relief of starter Erik Ainge, who had a rough night. His fumble helped set up LSU’s first score. Ainge later pitched a desperation heave out of his own end zone that was intercepted by Kenneth Hollis and returned three yards for another score.The game was played at night, albeit on a Monday. The game had been rescheduled because of hurricane Rita.

In other news:

- Defensive back Warren Burrell is out for the season after undergoing surgery to address an upper body injury. The senior starter had missed the last two games.

- Wide receiver Cedric Tillman underwent a surgical procedure to help the healing process for an ankle injury suffered against Akron on Sept. 17. Tillman’s status remains uncertain for LSU. 

* * *

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He is a 2022 inductee to the Tennessee Sportswriters Hall of Fame. He can be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com.ReplyForward

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