Well, then. We bare slack-jawed witness to raw greatness. Darren McFadden himself still seems a bit stunned, as unable to conceive of his accomplishments, as we are to emulate them. Days later, he's left blinking in the camera, at a loss to explain how 11 grown men could not stop him from running three and a quarter football fields. Scratch that. Not only 11 men — countless men, generations of strategists, hundreds of schemers, a good century of plotting could not keep this young man from doing the near impossible. Fast as he may be, he won't catch up with this accomplishment for years.
So he smiles and acts gracious, defers to his teammates and his coach. And when people talk about Darren McFadden, the names of three of the greatest football players who ever lived — Herschell Walker, Bo Jackson and Emmett Smith — are hot on their breath. But none of those players came close to doing what he did last Saturday.
Tennessee eked out a squeaker to South Carolina a couple weeks ago, and they've got a lot on the line this weekend against the Hogs. If they win out on a road that goes through Fayetteville, they'll play for the SEC championship. (Georgia's got their fingers crossed for the Razorbacks). On top of that, Head Coach Phil Fulmer's seat is every bit as hot as Nutt's.
We're neck and neck in the Sagarin rankings, with the Vols just edging us out for “team with less shitty performance in the first half of the season.” The same rankings system, however, predicts a brighter future for the Hogs. We'll see.
Erik Ainge spent his first few games of the season floating balls high with a broken pinky on his throwing hand. Ainge is a legacy: His family is to sport what the Bushes are to politics, what the Coppolas are to movies, what the Waltons are to cheap crap. Three generations of Ainges have made their living winning games, and it's in little Erik's blood.
Don't forget that the Gamecocks put up 364 passing yards against the Hogs. Without that 80-yard run, we were looking at a comeback. Outscoring a team isn't the most reliable way to win games. We'll have to contain wide receiver Lucas Taylor, who has 52 receptions for 741 yards on the season, to maintain momentum in the high altitudes of Rocky Top country.
On the ground, the Vols just lost four-star recruit LaMarcus Coker, who had to fail his drug test four times before he was kicked off the team. But Arian Foster's no joke. Just because he isn't DMac doesn't mean he can't be a difference-maker, especially if he's effective enough to open up the passing attack.
On D, the Vols have just as much trouble defending the run as South Carolina, so life should be good, as long as we can get Felix around the corner a few times. Monk should be healthier, Dick more confident. McFadden will be McFadden.
Remotely Negative Postscript: It's called the Wildcat. We don't run the Statue of Piggery play or the Hog and Ladder, do we? Show the man some respect.