By Jim Butler
Volunteer fans and Commodore fans alike can now buckle up their chinstraps as the real, meaningful part of the season gets under way. Vandy has already faced two SEC opponents and not fared well enough to win either game. Both teams are ranked, though, and the 'Dores played well enough to win both. Anyway that is past history.
Vanderbilt's past two wins came against teams that they were supposed to beat and they did look good against UAB, but they seemed awfully flat against UMass. They will need to come out and play a full four quarters in order to defeat the Missouri Tigers. Vanderbilt is a slight favorite against the undefeated visitors. Go figure.
Vandy's Jordan Matthews continues to impress as one of the top receivers in the conference. He tied the Vandy record for TD catches with his 21st against UAB and needs only 92 yards to become the Commodore's all time leader in the yardage category. He has been helped with the emergence of Jonathan Krause and the continuing improvement of quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels. Hopefully, for our growing number of black and gold faithful the improvements will continue.
Tennessee continues to have problems at the signal calling position and Justin Worley seems to be either really good or really bad with no in between. I'll leave most of the UT commentary to Mr. Gale as he continues to find the silver lining in a growing number of clouds.
I don't claim to have any answers as to why the Vols went flat after building a big 31-7 lead against the five-year old football program of South Alabama, but they were somewhat fortunate to come away with the win. Hoss Wyatt probably has some sort of answer. I haven't heard much out of him lately, but I trust he is doing well and the same goes for devoted fan Buck Woods and his card playing partner Randy Swafford. Hang in there guys, Butch Jones will get you back to even par with Vandy.
I'm sure that many Vol fans were excited to see what happened to Lane Kiffin. It would be wrong for us to wish any bad things on someone just because he left Knoxville for his "dream job." I'm sure he will land on his feet, though, with a substantial cut in pay, but still way above the median salary level.
It would be hard to envy the upcoming schedule that the Volunteers are facing, but all must have faith and just maybe they can pull off a surprise upset.
They will have some chances to do just that. Georgia is tough, but Clemson proved that they can be beaten.
Let's get our recliners ready and do some more yelling this week. There are always good things happening on Saturdays, like Notre Dame getting whipped by Oklahoma. They are probably still in the top 10, but maybe not for long. Just look around and you will find the good.
Have a great week!
Go Panthers! Go Jets! Go USA!
(Jim Butler is a Chronicle correspondent and his column appears regularly.)