|My other thumb is up there.|
Part of me wants to simply say look at this score. Or this one. Or even this one. All three point to serious issues stopping offenses for Tennessee's defense. Any offenses. That alone should be enough to make you feel good about this game.
Still, we've been here before. Last year, Tennessee's defense didn't look like they could stop any competent offense. Florida had their highest offensive output by 150 yards. We put 560 yards and 51 points on them. And nearly lost due to suspect defense.
We can debate reasons, but our current defense is suspect, at least to this point. I talked earlier this week about the need for style points. As I pointed out yesterday, people are looking at what Oregon did to Tennessee. We are in a position to make very favorable comparisons to a team many people think are a legitimate threat to stop the SEC's run of national championships.
To put it bluntly, we need a strong game out of our defense. I don't think a 55-42 win, while satisfying, will help us in the long run. While I clearly think the 'North Texas game was too close' narrative is wrong, there were plenty of national folks that noticed North Texas was tied with us in the 3rd Q, without actually looking at the reasons why or how much of an ass whipping the game really was, even at that point. If we go to Knoxville and not cover the spread, and by a bunch, we will clearly get hurt in the USA Today poll and the computers.
I realize some of this is premature talk, but after 2007 and 2009 (and 2011's win, if I'm being honest), it would be nice to roll into Knoxville and just really take care of business, regardless of the end of season scenarios.