Coach Duggs’ pursuit of that ever-elusive national title victory continues.
Last night Duggs led his #1 ranked Tennessee Volunteers to a 60-17 demolition over the Mizzou Tigers.
There was a lot of chatter going into the game about how Tennessee could be ranked 1st in the nation with a 4-2 record, but for at least one night, Duggs silenced the haters.
After 2 early season losses to Virginia Tech, who blew Tennessee off the field in last year’s national title game, and the Florida Gators, Duggs’ chances of making it back to the natty looked bleak.
But Duggs and his boys have rebounded with 3 straight wins over 4th ranked Michigan, Georgia, and the aforementioned Missouri and now the Volunteers control their own destiny.
The game against Mizzou started off with a bang as Jazz Owens took the opening kick-off to the house putting the Volunteers up 7-0.
Duggs was quick to give credit to the chat for the coaching decision of moving Owens to kick returner. Not sure I have ever heard of a head football coach admitting to crowdsourcing his coaching decisions but Duggs is nothing if not a man of the people and his approach would pay dividends again later in the game.
After Mizzou QB Adam Johnson led his team on a clinical opening drive down the field to knot the game at 7, Duggs stuck to his strategy of handing the ball to his star running back Rico Burgerton.
Duggs could be heard stalking the sideline shouting, “Pound the Rock” and “We Don’t Panic.”
It was clear from the start that Duggs’ play-calling was run-heavy in order to maintain possession and limit turnovers from his QB Stefan Cheah.
Let Duggs tell it and he’ll explain that it’s, “Big Boy Football” and his team is, “Putting People in the Cement-Mixer.”
After a receiving TD from Pua Stubbs made it 14-7 Volunteers early in the 2nd quarter, Tyron Yates of Mizzou took a pass from Johnson 80 yards to the endzone tying things up at 14.
In what seemed like a baffling decision in the moment, Duggs decided to go for it on 4th and goal from the 10-yard line on Tennessee’s following drive. The decision paid off when Cheah connected with Vincent Moltisanti for another touchdown making it 21-14 Vols.
As mentioned earlier, Duggs appears to be pioneering a revolutionary form of “crowd-sourced coaching” the likes of which we have never seen in football.
The aptly named Sean PICKens intercepted Mizzou QB Johnson midway through the 2nd quarter after Duggs switched to a zone defense at the chat’s behest.
Johnson had been 10-10 passing in the game before that pick.
The Tennessee offense cemented the momentum change with a 58-yard touchdown as Cheah found Moltisanti for six again.
It was 27-14 Vols and Duggs’ boys never looked back from there.
There was an interesting moment during halftime.
Duggs could be overhead consulting with a man named, “Muj” on defensive strategy.
“Muj” is “MujFricke” and although he’s not listed as an official member of the Volunteers’ coaching staff, insiders tell me that Muj has taken on a shadowy Svengali role within the program.
Some have dubbed him the “Duggs-whisperer” ala Ernie Adams in New England with Bill Belichick.
Whatever the case may be Muj’s advice seemed to pay dividends as Mizzou QB Adam Johnson threw a pick-6 to start the 2nd half making it 35-17 Vols.
The rout was on.
Burgerton continued to ravage the Mizzou defense on the ground, Owens added a receiving touchdown to his tally, Duggs’ defense got a strip sack, and Cheah punched in a rushing touchdown of his own.
When the dust settled, Duggs’ Tennessee squad had secured both a “50 burger” and the coveted “60 lobster” beating Mizzou 60-17.
It was a resounding win, and Duggs was heard late in the 4th quarter remarking that he, “Got all of my Mojo back.”
Perhaps the only hiccup of the game for Tennessee was a moment late in the 3rd quarter as the game was getting out of hand.
Mics picked up an unhinged Duggs rant on the sideline about, “SlidersDorks getting face-fucked by Heisman mode.”
The ever-mercurial Duggs appeared to be talking to nobody in particular but I am told that Tennessee boosters were not thrilled with their head football coach’s actions.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation.
One final item to keep an eye on is the performance of Tennessee’s defense.
From his time at Toledo, Florida State, USC, Texas Tech, and now Tennessee we know Duggs as an offense-first coach.
However, is it possible that Duggs has found his rhythm on defense?
Tennessee only allowed 20 points against Michigan, 21 against Georgia, and 17 against Mizzou.
It’s something to keep our eye on as the season continues.
Tennessee has a double-header at 8pm tonight against South Carolina and Alabama.
We’ll see if Duggs can keep his team on the straight-and-narrow path to glory.