South Alabama Gives Its All For Tennessee
By Dan Harralson
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's a motto for Vols football players to 'Give Their All For Tennessee,' but it was the South Alabama Jaguars exercising the motto to full potential Saturday.
However, the Vols' defense gave their all on South Alabama's fourth-and-goal finale attempt.
With a 1:58 left in the game and a Tennessee lead of 31-24, Brian Randolph intercepted Ross Methney to clinch the Vols' third win of the season.
Raijon Neal rushed the ball 25 times for a career-high 169 yards and scored a touchdown, but no run was bigger for Neal than his third-and-1 conversion to seal the victory with a minute to go.
Justin Worley had his moments, but still turned the ball over twice in the end zone. There was not a Riley Ferguson or Josh Dobbs freshman quarterback sighting like most expected. With game number five in the books and Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama next in line, it appears it will be Worley's season to finish.
Here are five nuggets to take away from the conclusion of the Tennessee and South Alabama game:
1. After Worley's third interception, he'd thrown five picks in his last 12 drives (2 out of the last 3 drives against Florida and 3 of the first 9 against South Alabama).
2. Tennessee has turned the ball over nine times in less than seven quarters.
3. Pig Howard has emerged as a solid receiver after battling injuries. Pig reeled in three catches for 37 yards and they were timely against the Jaguars defense.
4. The Vols led the SEC as the league's least-penalized team coming into Saturday's game at only two per game. Tennessee was penalized eight times Saturday.
5. Butch Jones' defenses have forced the most turnovers by any FBS team since 2011 with 76. The Vols forced three South Alabama turnovers.
Football.com was in the post-game press conference. Here are some quotes:
On if he considered putting in any of the true freshman quarterbacks at any point in the game
“No. When they're ready to play, they'll be ready to play."
On how much he feels the need to get the freshmen quarterbacks some reps in case something happens to Justin Worley
“We would like to but first and foremost we live in a week to week society in college football and it's all about winning this game. If I put one of the freshmen in and we lost the game, you all would be sitting here saying to me, 'Why did you put the freshman in?' See, that's the beauty of your pen, the power of second guessing, so I've always learned to go with my gut instinct, and you know I love you just to get that out there, but I want to make sure they're ready to go. And yes, we do have to get them reps, but this was the first week that we tried to simulate as many game-like conditions in practice and we'll continue to do that. At the end of the game I believed in Justin, even throughout the course of the game. And Justin needs as many repetitions, just like the freshmen do, so as many repetitions as he can gain, the better."
On OL Tiny Richardson's chirpiness at the end of the game
"Tiny’s a competitive individual. He’s very prideful, and I think he got caught up in the emotion a little bit."
On Jones' comments
"I appreciate that out of him. I know all four of us, Nathan [Peterman] included, put both him and coach Bajakian in a bind because of our progression in the offensive scheme and how we've done in practice, but hearing him say that he has my back like that — that means a lot."
On the offense
"I don't think we've shown our full deck of cards yet."