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October 3, 2010Coaches say football games are decided by one or two plays. Saturday afternoon, Tennessee's gut-wrenching loss was just that. Decided really by three plays. Derek Dooley's team played with grit and pride that not only made Vol fans proud, but made Vol lettermen of years gone by beam with pride.
And as the Vols sprinted on the field led by Prentiss Waggner's back flip, this game's five reasons why was going to be one about the Vols first win over a top 10 opponent since a 2006 win at Georgia.
But the Vol nation, which has had more than it's deserved share of heartbreak, went from jubliation to misery and disbelief in a turn of events unlike anyone has seen.
So instead of five reasons why the Vols won, here's five reasons why the Vols are 2-3 on the season.
1. Two too many - Tennessee spent the first month of the season rotating players like a fire drill on defense. Dooley said on Monday that they were rotating too much after playing two plays against UAB with only 10 men on the field. Saturday, Tennessee's rotation cost them a win as the Vols frantically shuffled players on and off the field on what should have been the game's final play. The confusion created 13 players on the field instead of 11 and sent the Vols home with a loss instead of the upset win.
2. 4th and 14 - The game shouldn't have come down to the frantic chaos of the last 20 seconds. It could have been the Vols kneeling for a win. Tennessee has the Tigers where they wanted them with 1:22 to play. The Tigers had used their final timeout to try and figure out a way to convert 4th and 14. Tennessee elected not to blitz and the Vols front four couldn't get any pressure allowing Jarrett Lee to find Terrence Tolliver for a 21 yard gain and a first down. The Vols have struggled to get pressure on the quarterback all season and it cost them big time on the Tigers final possession.
3. 4th and 1 - The Vol offense had their chance to put chew up more clock and to add more points. Tennessee had chewed up over 4 minute off the game clock and found themselves with a 4th and 1 at the Tigers 31. After trying to draw the Tigers offsides and using a time out, Dooley elected to not try a 48 yard field goal with freshman Michael Palardy and went for it. An off-tackle run to Tauren Poole went for minus yards and left the offense with no points. Opening the door for the Tigers final game winning drive.
4. 3rd quarter sack - Tennessee found themselves in great field position after a Nick Reveiz interception set the offense up at the LSU 38 yard line. Simms and the Vols had 1st and 10 at the Tiger 19 but went backwards. After a minus-two yard completion to Gerald Jones, the Vols faced 3rd and 12 at the LSU 21. Tennessee chose to be aggressive in trying to make the first down and Simms was sacked for a 7 yard loss. The result meant a 45 yard field goal try for freshman Michael Palardy instead of a 38 yard try. No guarantees that Palardy makes a kick, but his chances would have been better from inside 38 yards than from 45 yards.
5. Opening play bust - With points at a premium, the opening play from scrimmage was certainly a big play as LSU's Jordan Jefferson went 83 plays for a touchdown. Tennessee obviously recovered and was in great shape to win the game. Coming into the game, Tennessee knew they couldn't give the Tigers anything easy. They were fabulous in special teams coverage and outside of the opening play, they made LSU drive the field which was something the Tigers struggled to do with any consistency as they made mistake after mistake.