Tennessee Stat Book
BATON ROUGE, La. - Derek Dooley didn't feel comfortable sending injured kicker Daniel Lincoln on to the field Saturday, and Lincoln, Dooley said, wasn't comfortable with it, either.
Enter true freshman Michael Palardy, whose full-time kicking debut ended with one miss and one big "What if?"
One quarter after Palardy missed a 45-yard attempt wide right, Tennessee faced fourth-and-1 on LSU's 31-yard line with less than 5 minutes to play. Instead of attempting a 48-yard field goal, Dooley opted to go for a first down.
Running back Tauren Poole, though, was stuffed in the backfield, giving the ball back to LSU for what ended up becoming its game-winning final possession.
"It was a long field goal, we were up three," Dooley said. "You're fighting and it's 1 yard. I just felt like that was the right thing. Win it on offense, man. And we just got whipped."
Dooley said Lincoln, a senior, injured his groin during Thursday's practice. He largely commended Palardy, who knocked through both of the Vols' extra points, and also second-guessed himself for calling a pass, which ended with Matt Simms sacked for a loss, instead of running the ball on third down to set up Palardy for a closer attempt in the third quarter.
Jonesing For First Downs: Maybe the return of senior receiver Gerald Jones from a broken bone in his hand was all it took.
Suddenly the third-down issues that have plagued the Vols all season weren't quite so difficult to manage with a steady target for Simms to hook up with - which he did for three of their seven conversions.
"I think I did well, played very physical, and I wasn't even worried about the hand," Jones said. "I played very physical, but you know, most of the times we were (so close) to making that big play.
"I was beating my man all night, but they were blitzing and hitting us from every angle, we couldn't get the ball off, couldn't protect Matt. If we just had an extra second, game probably could have went a whole other way."
Suggestion Box: Dooley clearly wasn't in much mood to reminisce about his time at LSU, but he was prompted for a response by a member of the Louisiana media corps anyway.
So the Vols' first-year coach broke down seemingly everything he saw at Tiger Stadium.
"It's a good team we played, what do you want me to say?" Dooley said. "It's a big stadium, they've got a nice video board, the band was playing a little bit, they've got new skyboxes that are really nice, the seats were the same. The field was a lot better - they've improved their grass, so kudos to their administration for that.
"The eye hadn't ruined the field with the paint, that was a problem in the past. They've still got the old goalposts, that's a tradition here. They've only replaced one of the video boards, so they need to fix that other one."
Keeping It Close: LSU's last-second victory continued a trend in the series.
The last three games between the Tigers and Vols have been decided by a total of nine points.
LSU rallied to beat the Vols 28-24 in 2006, and UT overcame a 21-0 deficit to top LSU in overtime 30-27.
Louisiana Impact: The Vols got a big boost on defense from Louisiana recruits.
Linebacker Herman Lathers of Baton Rouge had 10 tackles. Safety Prentiss Waggner of Clinton, La., had eight tackles and broke up a pass. Safety Janzen Jackson of Lake Charles had seven tackles and an interception, which he returned 14 yards.
Peterson Upstaged: LSU's Patrick Peterson, who ranks second in the country in punt returns, not only was contained by UT's special teams; he was upstaged by the Vols' Eric Gordon.
Gordon had a 21-yard punt return and two kick returns for 60 yards.
Peterson averaged 10 yards on three punt returns and 21.3 yards on three kick returns.
Austin Ward and John Adams contributed to this report.