Vols to the Wall: It takes everything but the Kiffins sink after a late Bruin goal line stand preserves the emotionally-draining 19-15 upset
The next-best thing to beating a trojan is beating an ex-trojan, and that’s what the Bruins did on Saturday. The new Coach of Tennessee is — for the moment — Lane Kiffin, former Pete Carroll lapdog at Figueroa Tech. And his Assistant Head Coach is Ed Orgeron, another Carroll crony. Kiffin and Orgeron failed to please their new fanbase, despite the advantage of having Kiffin’s Dad, legendary Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin, successfully running the tough Vol Defense.
The Bruins struggled to be productive against that Defense, due to penalties, failed blocking assignments, fumbles, conservative playcalling, bad or dropped passes, and not enough Milton Knox. The little Tailback made two great plays in a row in the 1st quarter, but was not utilized the rest of the game. QB Kevin Prince completed a Touchdown pass under extreme duress, to Fullback Chane Moline, and later completed one beautiful needle-threading long pass, but mainly, he just managed the game, like Norm Chow wants. Except for giving up the ball on a Sack, that led to Tennessee’s first and only TD, Prince didn’t make too many big mistakes, and he threw no Interceptions.
Prince’s counterpart Jonathan Crompton was not nearly as efficient. Crompton threw 3 Interceptions — 2 to Rahim Moore who now has 5 on the Season — and missed several open Receivers. Not to say that the Reveivers were running wild and free — Courtney Viney, Tony Dye, and Alterraun Verner — who got the other Pick — were constantly blanketing their men.
Due to Prince’s fumble, the Bruins fell behind 10-3, but then they scored 16 straight points. They also spurted last week, with 30 straight points against San Diego State. Even though after the Moline TD they had to repeatedly settle for Kai Forbath Field Goals, at 19-10, it WAS a two-possession game… but it wasn’t over.
The Vols came back, and had a golden opportunity to win the game. All it would have taken was some creativity, but Kiffin tried to ram it down the Bruins’ throats, and failed. Down by just 6 in the final minutes, the Vols had the ball inside the UCLA 5-yard line, but the Bruins stepped up, and stuffed the Vols’ 4th and Goal run up the middle to end the threat.
The Bruins took over at the one, and suffered an untimely Safety that gave Tennessee another chance, but the Defense held them off to shock 100,00 orange-clad fanatics. When it was 13-10, those fans actually booed their own QB for a 3rd Down incompletion that he just threw away. Actually, Crompton was pretty bad (like he was last year in the Rose Bowl loss), and probably had it coming. Lots of Bruin fans weren’t always friendly to Kevin Craft last season, so at least some of you will understand.
The Vols’ star player said that the loss to UCLA last season ruined their season. Could this year’s heartbreaker have the sane effect? Last year’s Coach got fired after last year. Could Kiffin be on his way out too? Have all his infractions and Media shenanigans come back to haunt him? His Pom Pom Pete-influence came through when asked about regretting all the scandal, and all he cared about was that his trash-talking got his team in the papers and on Sportscenter.
Getting upset at home by a Freshman QB leading a 10-point Underdog team is a quick way to get on Sportscenter. And the highlights should show Brian Price and Reggie Carter leading a resilient Bruin Defense. Their pressure in the middle allowed for the 3 INT’s (plus 2 more that were called back).
And when Tennessee had Goal-to-Go to win the game, it looked bleak, but the Bruins got physical, and left the ex-trojans begging for the comfort of Pete’s teet.