VOL. 130 | NO. 207 | Friday, October 23, 2015
Reveiz Knows What Vols Need to Snap Streak
By DAVE LINK
Tennessee place-kicker Fuad Reveiz was anxious and nervous much of the week leading up the Vols’ game against Alabama on Oct. 16, 1982.
It was a tall order for the Vols.
Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant had an 11-game winning streak against UT. The Crimson Tide was 5-0, ranked No. 2 in the country and coming off a 42-21 victory against then-No. 3 Penn State.
Johnny Majors was in his sixth season as Tennessee’s coach and was 0-5 against Alabama.
The Vols were 2-2-1, unranked, and coming off a 24-24 tie at LSU.
Tennessee trailed 21-13 at halftime and rallied for a 35-28 victory to end the losing streak in front of 95,342 fans at Neyland Stadium.
It was one of the Vols’ most memorable victories in the historic series, which continues Saturday, Oct. 24, when the Vols travel to play Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Tennessee has now lost eight consecutive games to Alabama, and Tide coach Nick Saban is 8-0 against the Vols.
Can UT break another streak like it did two weeks ago against Georgia, which had won five straight before the Vols’ 38-31 win?
Reveiz has an idea what it takes. He remembers well the 1982 game against Alabama.
“I think at some point it’s got to come from within the guys,” Reveiz explains. “I don’t think it ever comes from the coaching staff. I think it comes from the guys.
“Some of them have to step up and start believing, ‘We can do it. We can win.’ ”
Reveiz says the Vols didn’t have that mindset going into the 1982 game against Alabama.
Not until some point during the game.
UT trailed 14-3 in the second quarter, its only points on Reveiz’s 22-yard field goal for an early 3-0 lead.
Willie Gault caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Alan Cockrell, and Reveiz added a PAT kick and 32-yard field goal as the Vols cut it to 14-13.
Alabama took a 21-13 lead at the half on Walter Lewis’ 38-yard TD pass to Joey Jones.
Then the game changed.
Reveiz remembers UT’s change of thinking.
“Once the second half started, a couple of breaks started going our way and we started scoring,” Reveiz recalls. “We looked at each other like, ‘Oh my gosh, we can do this. We can get it done. We can get it back.’
“That’s when you start believing in yourself and thinking out loud instead of just keeping it in yourself, that hopefully you can win.
“Once a couple of breaks start going your way and you start believing, that’s when you realize you can win.”
Tennessee scored 22 unanswered points for a 35-21 lead against the Tide.
Reveiz kicked a 45-yard field goal. Cockrell threw a 39-yard TD pass to Mike Miller, and Cockrell threw the conversion pass to tight end Kenny Jones of Nashville.
Reveiz kicked a 40-yard field goal for a 27-21 lead. Chuck Coleman ran for a 34-yard touchdown, and Cockrell’s conversion pass to Jones made it 35-21 in the fourth.
With time running out and UT leading, 35-28, Lewis threw a desperation pass that was intercepted by Mike Terry, and the Vols pulled off the upset.
It was Bryant’s last season as Alabama’s coach.
Alabama had seven coaches after Bryant and before Saban was hired in 2007: Ray Perkins (1983-86), Bill Curry (1987-89), Gene Stallings (1990-96), Mike Dubose (1997-2000), Dennis Franchione (2001-02), Mike Price (2003), and Mike Shula (2003-06).
Florida became a big rivalry with the Vols when Steve Spurrier coached the Gators, but longtime UT fans know Alabama is still No. 1 on the list of football rivals.
“Quite frankly, this is the biggest game on the calendar,” Reveiz says. “I think to me, Florida is the second biggest game on the calendar.
“To me Alabama’s always been the No. 1 rivalry game, the one that’s most important on the calendar.”
UT coach Butch Jones renewed faith in some UT fans with the victory over Georgia.
It was much needed after the Vols blew double-digit leads in losses to Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas.
Reveiz is on board with Jones.
“I love his recruiting,” he says. “I love what he’s done there. I like a lot of things that he’s done for Tennessee football. I think he’s given the class and respect we’ve had up until the last few years.”
Still, there is much work to be done.
UT’s most pivotal game the rest of the season isn’t Saturday at Alabama, but against Kentucky on Oct. 31 in Lexington.
If the Vols lose to Alabama and Kentucky, they’ll be 3-5 and needing to finish with victories over South Carolina, North Texas, Missouri and Vanderbilt to salvage a winning season.
It’s far from the eight- or nine-win season some expected from UT.
“I think like everything else, (Jones) needs to get a couple of more wins like the Georgia game to bring a lot of people around and start believing because you know what, winning cures everything,” Reveiz explains.
“It sounds simple, but it’s the truth. When you win, people forget about a lot of the wrong calls on the field, a lot of the missteps, and you move forward.”
Dave Link is a freelance journalist living in Knoxville.