In a windy, rainy night in Neyland Stadium, the No. 20 LSU Tigers carved up an injury-riddled Tennessee team. The loss marked the official end of the Vols’ bowl eligibility chances on the season, dropping the team to a record of 4-7 on the season, 0-7 in SEC play. Here’s a few things we learned from a disappointing night in Knoxville.
This team still has fire
Maybe it was the chance at a bowl game — maybe it was the desire to keep Tennessee from losing eight games for the first time ever — or maybe it was the excitement of not playing for Butch Jones anymore. Whatever the reason, the Volunteers proved that they’re not ready to roll over through aggressive play on both sides of the ball.
They dealt with big deficits and monsoon-like conditions, but they never quit. It’s nice to see how much these players still care, so late into a season that’s gone so far off the rails that it’s hard to remember the optimism some fans had in September.
It would’ve been easy to give up — at times this year, it seemed like the Vols have. But, they brought the fight to LSU and kept it there. It seems that even without Jones at the helm, Tennessee’s players still have those five-star hearts.
Fire isn’t always enough
Of course, no matter how much heart the Vols showed, it wasn’t enough to overcome a superior LSU team. Derrius Guice and the Tigers ran all over Shields-Watkins Field to the tune of 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
On the offensive side of the ball, an absolutely depleted offensive line wasn’t able to give John Kelly and company the room they needed to control the game on the ground. Jarrett Guarantano managed to have a solid showing despite the makeshift line and ugly weather, but it wasn’t enough to drive Tennessee to a victory.
In the end, the Vols never really had much of a chance against the Tigers. LSU was just too good on both sides of the ball, particularly on the ground. Sloppy play from the home team — namely four fumbles, several bad snaps and a handful of penalties — doomed Brady Hoke’s squad.
All eyes are on the #GRUMORS
In a confusing night for Vol fans (a somewhat encouraging performance that resulted in a blowout and the end of Tennessee’s hopes for a bowl game appearance), it wasn’t anything that happened on the field that garnered the most headlines or attention in Knoxville.
Instead, conflicting reports of potential head coach and assumed program savior Jon Gruden’s location that stole the show. Initially reports said that Gruden was in Knoxville dining with Peyton Manning at Calhoun’s on the River in what may have been one of the final stages before a Monday Night Football announcement answered Vols’ fans prayers by taking over for Butch Jones. As time passed, it worked itself out — that story was false, and Gruden was actually in Seattle, Washington, preparing to call the Seahawks’ game on Monday night.
The story dominated Vol Twitter, making it hard to pay attention to anything else. That’s a trend that’ll likely continue until the university officially announces who the next head coach will be. This team is on the verge of putting up the worst record in program history, but it’s clear that anything happening on the field will be taking a backseat until Tennessee either catches its white whale or settles for reeling in someone else.