*Note, Fulmer’s Belly will have a full write up of our experiences in Berkeley along with pictures and commentary from other fans later on in the week*
So, the opening college football weekend did not disappoint. Well, it did, but not in the sense that there was no excitement. Of course, the biggest storyline of the weekend came not from the shootout in Berkeley, but from perhaps the greatest upset ever in Ann Arbor.
We would like to extend a hearty congratulations to the Mountaineers of Appy State, who were able to take down the Goliaths known as the Michigan Wolverines, and set themselves up in the history books for all time. The game was televised by the brand new Big Ten network, and what an inaugural weekend it was for them with Charles Davis, former Tennessee Vol providing the color commentary.
Appalachian State looked as if they were going to do what seems to always happen in a bid for a monumental upset and falter at the last minute, but the stars aligned, and they were able to block a last second field goal by the Wolverines to preserve their 2 point victory in Ann Arbor. Perhaps one of the most interesting consequences of the loss was fielded by Michigan Blog, MGoBlog, purveyors of the BlogPoll, where their entire blog went down temporarily, only to be replaced by… kitties.
In other weekend news, the Tennessee Volunteers fell to the Golden Bears of California (Berkeley) in a game played first in uncharacteristically intense Northern California heat, then after the sun fell, in cooler weather but markedly darker conditions, as the field was lit up with what amounted to four (rented) flashlights on sticks.
The shootout was one reminiscent of a Pac 10 conference game, where the teams traded blows all night in lieu of playing something called “defense.” The porous defense on Tennessee’s side of the ball was uncharacteristic of a Chavis coached team, allowing short run plays to break outside for long gains. It appeared that the Tennessee linebackers were in fact, over pursuing their targets, and often outrunning their assignments and lanes. John Chavis was no doubt disheartened and dismayed at the play of his boys, and will more than likely have his players tackling passing cars on the freeway to learn how to wrap up.
Special teams were also abysmal, with kickoffs barely reaching the 10 yard line (which would translate into the 5 yard line last year), along with the one monumental breakdown in coverage when DeSean Jackson was able to run back the game’s first punt for a touchdown. The receivers actually looked ready to play, although none of them possessed the ability of last year’s group to break out of arm tackles for bigger gains, often being tackled with very few, if any, YAC (yards after the catch).
Xavier Mitchell was hurt, it seemed potentially very seriously near the end of the game, but reports are coming out that, luckily, it appears that he suffered no spinal cord damage, but rather only a concussion and was able to fly back to Knoxville with the team. Hope you get well soon X!
The rest of the weekend saw limited action of higher ranked teams with no other major upsets coming around the bend, but it was a fun weekend overall, and hopefully a sign of things to come (except for Tennessee ever losing again… ever).
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