Tennessee Fan Weekly — Week 3
Hey, folks! Welcome to Tennessee Fan Weekly! This is a weekly series chronicling the ups (of which there are few) and downs (kinda like Mike Mularkey has!) of being a Tennessee football fan. I’ll do a quick recap of the previous week’s games, but focus mainly on the emotional trauma associated with rooting for the Vols/Titans. If you don’t like the word “fuck,” get offended easily by accusations of sports figures having physical or mental handicaps, or get uneasy by the constant mention of whatever the hell an Octopus Cock is, then maybe this isn’t the article for you. Enjoy!
WEEK 3— VOLS
Behold, for the Volunteers of the mighty state of Tennessee have come face to face with their greatest foe to date — the might Calculators of Ohio! Yes, the feared Ohio Rusty Knuckles steamrolled into Knoxville, and made a competitive affair against a “ranked” team (I put that in quotes because I think they’re really only ranked due to the name of the program, at this point) favored by experts to win by at least 27. I’m at a place right now where I feel like the Vegas spread is really more of a barometer by which to gauge how incredibly disappointed I’ll feel the week following a game.
And I know these articles are kind of bullshit, because I complain every single week despite the Vols having a 3–0 record. I know teams like Oklahoma would love to play like shit (because they have) and still be 3–0. Shit, LSU is having a decent year and lost early, and at least Oregon puts up points when they lose to Nebraska. I don’t buy into the, “this is our year” rhetoric because you have to prove that sort of thing on the field, not by chanting it in an empty field while sacrificing a baby goat to the ghost of Lou Holtz (RIP, probably); I don’t think winning is the end-all, be-all to a successful season or campaign; and I don’t feel good after squeaking by teams that should be warm-up fodder for the backups. So despite the record, Tennessee’s season has thus far been a strange mixture of the stagnant offense, overaggressive bend-but-don’t-break defense, and up-and-down special teams scraping together wins against teams they should really have made easy work of (and take away those five turnovers at Bristol and I guarantee that final score looks a whole lot different).
And this is sort of the issue I wanted to get at with this weekly series. I know I’m jaded. I suffered through Fulmer’s lack of institutional control his last 5–6 years with the program, an embarrassing stint with the one and only Octopus Cock (some know him as Lane Kiffin, but Tennessee fans know his true identity), Derek P. Dooley spending more time on his pants than his program, and now four years of Butch saying and doing the “right” things but never really growing on the field. And that sucks. The team fluctuated in wins/losses during that time, and I get it. Again, wins aren’t everything to me — having a feeling like you’ve got a shot to win each and every game is way more important (regardless of the outcome). Jones has nothing but talent all up and down this roster…so why aren’t they going into App State and Ohio games and dropping 40+ on fools like their roster suggests they can? Dobbs is a physical freak, Hurd could run over a rhino superglued to the linoleum floor of a McDonald’s dining room, and Kamara is the shiftiest little bastard we’ve had in years. Our wideouts are mostly pretty good, and while the offensive line needs work, it’s better than it has been (slightly). Why the fuck is this still resulting in Tennessee relying on missed kicks, turnovers, and simply outlasting teams to win?
I want to feel good going into games, damn it.
Let’s look at the next couple of weeks for the Vols to illustrate my point:
Week 4 — vs. Florida
Week 5 — @ Georgia
Week 6 — @ Texas A&M
Week 7 — vs. Alabama
Week 8 — @ South Carolina
Now based on the last few years, I’d pencil in Georgia, and S. Carolina has been a joke for as long as I can remember now, so that one sadly doesn’t scare me. But this year? Holy shit, guys, I don’t see a guaranteed win in there (except for SC lol). Florida might be closer than I hope, but after 11 straight losses (the last couple, in particular, have been fucking deflating) who would bet on Big Orange? Georgia hasn’t looked great, but neither have we, so that’s more or less a wash. But A&M has looked much better than the Vols, and don’t get me started on what Alabama has the potential to do to us (although it’s still my dream to beat them so bad Kiffin gets fired right on the fucking spot on the tarmac again). Christ, Kentucky and Vanderbilt might be slugfests this year. Kentucky is essentially Tennessee’s older cousin that keeps getting arrested for setting fire to cats and dealing meth, and Vandy is more akin to a clone gone horribly wrong, with limbs coming out of ears and seventeen nipples across their foreheads. We’re going to beat an in-state quasi-rival by only 4 this year, and that’s embarrassing.
And this sad state is what it means to me to be a Tennessee fan. I don’t like being this way. I want to cheer and talk shit and know there’s a really good chance that team is going to back up the shit I talk. But I don’t feel that way, and I haven’t in a long, long time. Butch Jones is getting more wins each year he coaches this team, but the nothing on the field seems to have changed. Wins are great, yeah, but I crave that feeling of confidence that we simply don’t have right now.
Oh well, there’s always Week 4.
Kiffie of the Week:
The Ohio Plungers allowed 56 points to Texas State week 1; Kansas mustered 21 points week 2; Tennessee only bested the Kansas (who lost to Memphis last week lol) score by one touchdown. Call me crazy, but I don’t think any team is marching out of Bama with a W after scoring one touchdown per quarter. And while Dobbs looked better through the air this week, he was still out-thrown by the opposing QB. Who gets the blame here?
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike DeBord, of course!
DeBord’s offense has looked sluggish, flat, and woefully under-prepared this season, and Dobbs is damn-near regressing from what he did through the air last year. Why does this keep happening? You could argue they didn’t need to pull out any stops against Ohio, but holy shit Bama’s playing backups every week midway through the third, while Tennessee’s starters struggle against Sun Belt and Mid-Atlantic Conference teams. It’s crappy and shitty and it sucks. And for that, DeBord will take home the Lane Kiffin Collector’s Edition Haunted Beach House and Spooky Towel Rack Playset of the Week, presented by Carl’s Jr.
Vols Fan Index:
We’re still in Oh, Damn! territory, thanks to under-performing against an otherwise dominant Ohio Mud Butts squad and having basically no signs of getting through the next five games with more than 2 wins. App State probably isn’t as good as people thought they were after week 1, Tech is probably better than what they put on the field in week 2, and after this week I’m sure there’ll be absolutely no reason to ever talk about Ohio University ever again. That means the Vols have barely beaten two teams of almost negligible consequence on a national scale, and one team that more or less beat itself. Now they enter the SEC gauntlet of the schedule, and it’s time to see what exactly this team will look like against some top competition.
…I probably should have gone with Oh, Fuck!
WEEK 2— TITANS
Since we’re getting all contemplative on life and fandom up in this blog, let me relate a little more about myself to you. It won’t take long.
My first real experience in being a Tennessee fan (and really, a football fan in general) was back in the late 90s when Peyton Manning was still in college. My first real understanding of the game came at the hands of Manning, who despite never winning a championship or Heisman in college, sort of set the standard for what the sport was. I of course following Manning into the pros, where I’ve been a huge fan of his since his first snap for the Colts almost 20 years ago. I’ve liked other teams along the way, and watched the sport, but I followed Peyton closely from his years in blue to the final [very weak and inaccurate] throw in orange. It was a rollercoaster, sure, but it was fun.
During the while, I still rooted for the Titans as my main team. That obviously presented about 13 years of conflict when Peyton would play (and subsequently, beat) them twice a season, but otherwise I’d pull for Tennessee. I didn’t really have to start taking Tennessee fandom into primarily — and really, only — consideration until this season. And let me tell you, it’s incredibly underwhelming.
The Titans have backed themselves into a similar position that the Vols have, in that I don’t really expect much out of them on a weekly basis. It’s cool to see if they won, but wow I’m just not confident in them at all. A few years of having a worse record than the Jags can do that to you, I guess.
So as I sit here today, hoping for an owner (and not a fucking group) that cares, a President that isn’t a puppet, a GM that isn’t stifled by superiors, and a head coach that can actually win games, I have to admit that being a Titans fan is really, really boring. Take Week 2, for instance — of course the game wasn’t televised, because nobody on Earth can sit through the Titans and the Lions trade ineffective blows with one another, so other than highlights, I couldn’t even watch the game. But even the final score was boring. 16–15? No thanks. That screams, “missed field goals,” “botched goal line attempts,” and “general bumfuckery,” none of which being particularly exciting in a football game.
So, rather than provide any sort of in-depth analysis of the performance or say I want more out of the team composed mostly of a front office that just doesn’t give a damn, I’ll point out the the team’s President, Steve Underwood, looks like he’s a member of the Gek race from No Man’s Sky.
Lineman Spotlight of the Week:
Since Gek Toiler Underwood is so fond of offensive linemen, I thought I’d help him share that enthusiasm with you, the kind reader (all one of you)! This week we’re showcasing Center Ben Jones, a free agent signing from the Houston Texans. Jones spent four years in Houston ensuring that whichever mook was starting that week spent a majority of his time running away from defensive linemen, and has now brought that proud tradition to Nashville. Thanks for the wonderful addition to the team, Ben!
With a new lineman comes a new edition of Stupid Player Facts of the Week! This is a game I keep renaming wherein I copy text over from the Titans’ bio of a player and add one fake “fact” to the list. You have to guess which is the phony! Let’s dive right in:
— Jones switched from jersey #61 to #60 prior to his senior season at Georgia, to honor his father, Steve, a former collegiate star, who was killed in a helicopter crash when he was 10 years old.
— Jones’ pregame ritual consists of walking barefoot on the field “to get a feel for the turf.” The routine began before one game with his brother in high school and after enjoying success that night, it has continued ever since.
— Jones once ate an entire wheel of cheese inside a Kroger bakery section because he couldn’t fit it in his cart. He informed the manager on duty of his actions, paid the proper amount for the item in question, and then drove to practice.
Submit your guesses to my personal Twitter handle, @weslikestacos . Winner receives public recognition for actually reading this blog. Or does that count as shame?
Titans Fan Index:
I don’t know if it’s from the fact that this team is 1–1 and on track to at least double their wins from last year, or the fact that I’m having an incredibly difficult team caring about this team (outside of seeing Mariota and Murray place nice together), but I’m oddly serene this week. I don’t know, I guess beating the Lions is a big deal? Probably not? Not that Jim Caldwell runs a particularly tight ship or anything, but shit, I’d take him over Mularkey. And maybe that’s the problem here — I’d take Jim Caldwell over the guy we currently have. For this serious offense, I believe it’s in the team’s best interest to fire Mike Mularkey and aim their sights a little higher…to Jim Caldwell territory. God, what have we become?
Well, that sure was fun. I highly doubt next week will be, though. The Vols look to break the depressing 11 year streak of jorts-based shame against the Gators, and the Titans welcome the mighty Oakland Raiders, a team I actually find far more interesting than the Titans. Also depending on what happens with Adams-Strunk and the 17 other people that own the team, this may be a preview of the fight the two teams will have to move to Vegas in a year or so! Why am I still writing this feature?!