VOL. 7 | NO. 43 | Saturday, October 18, 2014
Link on UT
UT Who? Vols-Ole Miss Game a Mirror Image of ’69
DAVE LINK | The Ledger
KNOXVILLE – Bud Ford usually had no problem wearing the orange blazer in his early days as assistant sports information director at the University of Tennessee.
Not on this day, though. It was Nov. 15, 1969.
UT’s football team was 7-0 and ranked No. 3 in the nation coming off a 29-14 victory over South Carolina on homecoming at Neyland Stadium.
Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning leads his team to a 35-0 win against then-No. 3 Vols in 1969.
The Vols then made the road trip to Jackson, Miss., to face No. 18 Mississippi, which was 5-3, in a game that remains etched in the memories of UT and Rebel faithful.
It was the infamous “Archie Who?” game, when quarterback Archie Manning led Ole Miss to a 38-0 victory over the stunned Vols.
Ford remembers it like yesterday. Wearing the orange blazer. Game over. Leaving the press box and exiting the stadium among a sea of Ole Miss fans. Humiliation.
“Back in those days, we all used to wear orange blazers,” Ford recalls. “I remember having an orange blazer on, and that was exactly where I didn’t want to be, walking out of that press box with an orange blazer on. They didn’t have any elevators. You had to walk through the stands. We just got murdered. We really did.”
When UT and No. 3-ranked Ole Miss resume the series Saturday at 7 p.m. in Oxford, Miss., most of the national media will be elsewhere. It’s a big game for the Vols and Rebels. Not so much for the rest of the college football world.
It was far different in the late 1960s.
“I have to say it was an outstanding series and a very popular series,” former UT coach and athletic director Doug Dickey says. “Tennessee played Ole Miss every year for years. They were one of our standard rivals. We played in Memphis some, we played in Jackson, we played in Knoxville, we played all over the place, but I don’t think I ever coached Tennessee in Oxford.”
Dickey was UT’s head coach from 1964-69 before leaving for the same position at Florida.
His UT teams were stout. The 1967 Vols were crowned national champions in the Litkenhous poll – which came out before the Orange Bowl loss to Oklahoma – and the 1968 team went 8-2-1 and finished No. 8 nationally after a 36-13 loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
When the 1969 preseason rolled around, the Vols were one of the favorites in the SEC.
Ford recalls the old SEC “Skywriter’s Tour,” a group of writers who traveled by plane from one league campus to the next to preview each team, stopping in Knoxville before the ’69 season.
All-American linebacker Steve Kiner was the center of attention for the writers, and was asked the seemingly harmless question: “Who is the best team in the SEC?”
Kiner mentioned UT, and perhaps Alabama and Georgia. The writers kept pressing.
“They kept quizzing Kiner,” Ford recalls. “After about the third or fourth question, one of them said, ‘Don’t you think Ole Miss has a bunch of horses?’ and Kiner said, ‘Well, I think they might have some, but they might have some mules, too.’”
Kiner’s quotes were reported in newspapers throughout the Southeast, and were brought up a couple of months later when Ole Miss week came up for the Vols.
As the story goes, Ole Miss officials – and perhaps head coach Johnny Vaught – printed leaflets printed “Archie Who?” and dropped them from a small airplane onto the Rebels’ practice field, and a mule was paraded around the Oxford campus the week before the game.
Vaught was indeed a football mastermind. He won national championships at Ole Miss in 1959, ’60 and ’62.
“I remember that we had a mule incident with one of our players,” Dickey says. “They walked a mule around the campus for a week and got all fired up, and we had a bad game, and they played well. It was just one of those times.”
It was bad from the get-go for the Vols, who were favored by 7 to 11 points.
Ole Miss took the opening kickoff, drove 82 yards on 11 plays and scored on Manning’s 3-yard run.
Randy Reed recovered Manning’s fumble in the end zone for the second touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Manning’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Riley Myers made it 21-0 early in the second quarter.
Reed’s touchdown run in the third quarter led to a 31-0 lead – the same score by which the Vols beat the Rebels in 1968.
“We had three or four starters out,” Dickey recalls. “It was a bad coincidence for us. It was a bad coincidence (for Kiner to) have said what he said and then we have a bad day, a bad game. Anyway, that’s the way it was. It happened.”
Ford remembers a somber departure from the press box.
“Even the coaches had to walk through the crowd back then,” Ford says. “We all came out of the press box and into the crowd, and we’d just got it handed to us.”
Dickey was Florida’s coach from 1970-78, and served as UT’s athletic director from 1985-2002. He is retired and lives in Jacksonville.
Ford was promoted to UT’s sports information director in 1989 and got another promotion to associate athletic director for media relations in 2000, a position he held until a controversial retirement in 2012. He lives in Knoxville.
Manning was drafted by New Orleans with the second pick of the 1971 NFL Draft and spent 15 seasons as the Saints’ quarterback, never gaining near the success as his two sons, Peyton and Eli. Archie is a motivational speaker.
Vaught coached Ole Miss from 1947-70, retired due to health issues, but returned to coach the Rebels three games into the 1973 season when he replaced Billy Kinard. He remained as Ole Miss athletic director until 1978. Vaught died Feb. 3, 2006.
UT O-line vs. Rebels’ pass rush: Same story, different week. The Vols gave up five more sacks in last Saturday’s 45-10 victory over UT-Chattanooga, a Football Championship Subdivision team.
UT has allowed 23 sacks this season, including 11 in the last two games and 19 in the last four.
Ole Miss has sacked the quarterback 11 times this season. Freshman defensive end Marquis Haynes (6-3, 220 pounds) has four sacks this season for minus-49 yards – despite starting only one game. Senior nose tackle Bryon Bennett (6-2, 293) has two sacks and four tackles for loss.
In last Saturday’s 35-20 victory at No. 14 Texas A&M, the Rebels sacked Kenny Hill twice for minus-26 yards. Haynes had both sacks on Hill.
Look for the Vols to go with its same starting five on the offensive line: Kyler Kerbyson and Coleman Thomas at tackles, Marcus Jackson and Jashon Robertson at guards, and Mack Crowder at center.
“The best five are going to play,” UT coach Butch Jones says. “They’ve been the best five with their consistency in practice. … If somebody steps up and is playing at a higher consistency, then they’ll play. But right now, those five will be the five.”
Bo Wallace vs. UT secondary: Ole Miss senior quarterback Bo Wallace – sometimes referred to as “Good Bo” or “Bad Bo” – has been more good than bad of late.
Wallace, who played for Giles County High School in Pulaski, has completed 68.5 percent of his passes this season for 1,700 yards, an average of 283.3 yards per game. He’s thrown 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. Six of Wallace’s receivers are averaging 13.8 yards or more per catch.
Sophomore Laquon Treadwell (6-2, 229 pounds) leads the Rebel receivers with 30 catches for 415 yards (13.8-yard average) and four touchdowns.
Not only will the Vols’ coverage in the secondary be tested, so will its tackling after the catch.
“I don’t see any inconsistency right now in (Wallace’s) play,” Jones says. “All I have to go on is the video from this year. He’s playing winning football. He’s managing the offense. I think he brings a level of toughness to their offense. He can make all the throws.
“They do a good job schematically in terms of what they ask of Bo.
“A lot of it is throws off the run game, throw reads, designed quarterback runs. He understands how to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers, so he’s managing their offense. He presents a defense with so many challenges because of his grittiness, his toughness, his ability to run the football but also the ability to throw the ball as well.”
UT/Worley’s run game vs. Ole Miss front 7: The Vols mustered 123 rushing yards against Chattanooga and are averaging 109.7 yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry.
UT’s top backs were slowed due to injuries for the UTC game. Starter Marlin Lane (ankle) didn’t play, while leading rusher Jalen Hurd (shoulder) had just two carries for 7 yards and Devrin Young two carries for zero yards.
Vol fans itching for quarterback Justin Worley to run the ball more got their wish. Worley had 10 rushing attempts for 34 yards gained, but his net was minus-1 due to all the sacks.
Ole Miss is allowing 113.3 rushing yards per game, and 3.3 yards per carry. The Rebels are giving up 193.8 passing yards per game.
Jones said it won’t be easy establishing the run against Ole Miss.
“Great test. Great, physical football team,” Jones said of Ole Miss. “Again, they’re going to challenge our resiliency, our mental conditioning, our toughness, the ability to get yards after contact, all those things that go into running the ball effectively, maintaining blocks, being able to block on the second level.”
Series History: The Vols lead the series against Ole Miss 44-19-1 and have won 13 of the last 14 games against the Rebels. They won 12 straight games against Ole Miss before a 42-17 loss in Oxford on Nov. 14, 2009.
In that game, Ole Miss’ Dexter McCluster rushed for 282 yards and had 324 all-purpose yards, both school records. He broke the single-game rushing record of 242 yards set by Dou Innocent in 1995 and the all-purpose record of 317 yards set by Deuce McCallister in 1999.
McCluster scored four rushing touchdowns against the Vols on runs of 15, 23, 32, and 71 yards as the Rebels posted their five victory against UT since 1983.
UT won the last game of the series, 52-14, on Nov. 13, 2010. Tyler Bray threw three touchdown passes – two to Justin Hunter – and Tauren Poole scored on two rushing touchdowns for the Vols.
Bray was 18 of 34 for 323 yards, but Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli was only 7 of 18 for 80 yards with three interceptions.
Ole Miss won eight straight in the series under Vaught from 1959-66.
UT Backs Update: The UTC game was a good chance for the Vols to do some healing, particularly in the running back corps.
Jones says Lane and Hurd will be ready for Ole Miss, but Young (ribs) will be out for another couple of weeks.
Hurd was listed as the starter in the depth chart for Ole Miss, with freshman Derrell Scott No. 2 and Lane No. 3. Scott led the Vols in rushing against UTC with 42 yards on nine carries (4.7-yard average) in his first game at running back.
“Derrell is very, very quick,” Jones says. “He’s a downhill runner, north and south, has the ability to make you miss, but has good burst and acceleration. I thought he did some really good things for handling his first live-game opportunities. But again, his pass protection, knowledge of the pass protection schemes, just the overall knowledge and volume of the offense is one of the things that he needs to continue to improve on.”
Gilliam’s Return: When UT starting left tackle Jacob Gilliam suffered an ACL injury in the season opener against Utah State, his college career appeared to be over.
Not necessarily so.
Jones says Gilliam has been able to return to practice “full go” and is on course to get back on the field in a game.
“I believe, at some point, Jacob Gilliam will have an opportunity to impact the game,” Jones says.
Gilliam, a former walk-on, was awarded a scholarship last May and earned a starting job in preseason after being on the squad team in 2013. He played in two games last year.
Road Challenge: The Vols face their third ranked opponent on the road this season after previous losses at then-No. 4 Oklahoma and then-No. 12 Georgia.
UT hasn’t beaten a ranked team on the road since a 51-33 victory over No. 10 Georgia on Oct. 7, 2006, in Athens, Ga. Also, UT has lost seven straight against SEC West opponents since beating Ole Miss in 2010.
The Rebels were a 17-point favorite against UT early in the week.
“I think everyone, obviously, knows the great challenge that lies ahead of us, but also the great opportunity, playing the No. 3-ranked team in the country,” Jones said. “When you look at them, (they’re) a very, very complete football team.”
Dave Link is a freelance journalist living in Knoxville.