Strange: All forgiven if Simms beats Florida

Mike Strange
Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms takes the field after talking with quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw against Oregon at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. UT lost the game 48-13.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms takes the field after talking with quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw against Oregon at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. UT lost the game 48-13.

Full event details »

Matt Simms didn't have to wait long for Florida week to start. In fact, he didn't have to wait at all.

Late Saturday night, Tennessee's quarterback walked out of the locker room at Neyland Stadium digesting the 48-13 loss to Oregon. His mother Diana was waiting with a kind word.

As they emerged from the tunnel under Gate 21, a UT fan approached. Here, let Simms tell it:

"He goes, 'Tough loss. You did a good job tonight, but if you beat Florida, we'll forget everything.'

"It kind of put a smile on my face, even though I was disappointed about the game. It kind of made me realize how important this game is.''

Oregon was a tough loss, both in the lopsided margin and because Simms and the Vols knew it shouldn't have gotten so lopsided.

But, of course, the fan was right. Oregon was instantly history. Beat the Gators and all is suddenly right with UT's troubled world.

Problem is, the Vols haven't beaten the Gators since 2004 and will be a two-touchdown underdog Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Simms is a New Jersey kid. He arrived at UT in January. But he gets Tennessee-Florida.

This is the kind of game he dreamed of playing in but it wasn't a dream that he seemed likely to realize.

"Especially since I went to Louisville (out of high school),'' he said. "I never thought I'd be playing in a game of such magnitude at a stadium like this against a team like them.''

While attending junior college in California last fall he watched Florida's 23-13 win in The Swamp, never thinking he'd be Tennessee's quarterback a year later.

"When Eric Berry hit Tim Tebow it was one of those moments I'll never forget,'' Simms said.

"Most people think Tim won that battle, but I disagree. I think Eric won that battle.''

Simms will have to win his share of battles Saturday if UT is to nourish any upset hopes.

Tennessee's passing game, while showing some nice flashes, hasn't exactly been a work of art. The Vols rank last in the SEC and 107th nationally in pass-efficiency.

A Simms interception that was returned for a touchdown was a defining moment in the Oregon loss. And here come the Gators, who lead the nation with eight interceptions.

"What the other team does affects our game plan every week,'' UT coach Derek Dooley said Monday. "It's not going to affect us to where we're scared to do anything.''

Florida has returned a pick for a touchdown in each of its first two games. Last week it was defensive end Justin Trattou, who - small world - is Simms' lifelong friend from Jersey.

They helped Don Bosco Prep win a state title in 2006. Before that were Little League battery mates.

When Florida recruited Trattou, Simms wasn't invited along for the ride.

"They didn't need a quarterback,'' Simms said with a laugh, "they had a guy named Tim Tebow they were getting ready.''

He doesn't expect to hear from Trattou this week, at least not anything friendly.

And that's fine.

"I can't lie,'' Simms said, "even when I wasn't here at Tennessee I was never a big Florida fan. I was always rooting for Tennessee, even though I had no idea why.''

He's got a pretty good idea why now. Beating Florida erases a lot of bad memories.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 34

East_TN_VOL writes:

People can say what they want to about Matt Simms and his ability, or lack thereof. However, I'm glad that Dooley is sticking with him because Matt Simms has the abilities and qualities it takes to be a leader on this "new" Vol team. With all of the Vols playing with chips on their shoulders from previous seasons, including the last few years with Fulmer and last season with the weasel, a new era has arrived... UT 31 UF 28, write it down! WE ARE UT!

VolinCalif writes:

I like what you are saying. But it is still early in the year and our team is still coming into their own. I think it will be a good game but if we lose so be it. We will still go to a bowl and win.

bluetick writes:

I am still holding out for a couple more recruiting classes before the Vols of old come back to shape. Can't wait to see it. At least the Oregon game gave me something to get excited about in the first half.

VOL03_NC writes:

Depth...need sum.

OhioVol3 writes:

Whatever the line for the UF game is...take UF. UT wilts against UF. They just dont have heart.

When was the last time we beat someone we really shouldn't have?

bobo96 writes:

"When was the last time we beat someone we really shouldn't have?
"

UT 35, UGA 14, 2007.
Nobody gave us a chance. UGA did not get a first down until just before the first half.

Not sure if that was the "last time" but, darn.

Oh, remember Bama UT in 2009? The lost year? One healthy kicker and you have one healthy arse kicking of Bama.

Don't give up on this game (UF) yet.

UF could have easily lost to UM OH in week one. Can't say the same for UT versus UTM.

tovolny writes:

Yeah, I like Matt Simms. I didn't think I would at first, but he has a NATURAL swagger without being arrogant. You can see the other players looking at him for leadership. His videos on GoVolsXtra display a person with a great personality. I like the fact that he isn't afraid to throw...sometimes scary, but a quarterback has to "let-er-rip" and allow the receivers to excel.

The Vols must get the special teams wrinkles worked out. Punting can't be low 40 yard bounders and 25 yard shanks. Kickoffs have to go beyond the 10 yard line. Field goal trys over 40 yards can't be low enough for linemen to bat down. The punter needs to participate in tackling drills. (Cunningham made sure he was over for enough to the left so that he wouldn't have a shot at Oregon's returner.) Johnny Majors, Bill Majors, Bobby Majors, Bobby Gordon, Gene Etter, Hal Watland, and Mallon Faircloth would have been the safety and would probably made that tackle...or at least made contact.

Special teams defenders gave up on several punts and Kickoffs. Simply did not continue a determined persuit, or worse, did not make an effort in the first place. Some starters acted as if they did not want to be on a special teams tackling mission. The coaches have to see this in reviewing the videos, but for the last 4 or 5 years this has gotten worse. Seems like certain players are not playing hard probably for a fear of getting hurt. The best way to get hurt is slacking off and allowing a blocker to help you pick up your teeth. The Vols lack overall toughness. Only a few guys display toughness on every play...No. 56 we know goes all out on every play. Wouldn't it be nice if all the players put out the same effort. If you play as hard as you can but still get beat, it doesn't gnaw at you near as much. OLD COACHES always say they would rather have a player with little talent and lots of heart, than a player with lots of talent and little heart.

Come on Vols, play with intensity and toughen up.

utvolfan16 writes:

in response to OhioVol3:

Whatever the line for the UF game is...take UF. UT wilts against UF. They just dont have heart.

When was the last time we beat someone we really shouldn't have?

UGA last year...South Carolina last year...Come on man!

utvolfan16 writes:

in response to listentothemusic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The kid has played in two games and only one was a battle. Give him a chance. When was the last time you did something for the first time and mastered it?

volsfannsc writes:

in response to listentothemusic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

PLEEEZ...don't flatter yourself.

volsfannsc writes:

Mike Strange, tell you what- win a pulitzer prize and all will be forgiven for crappy articles on GVX.

gnm53108 writes:

KNS...Please find another pict of Matt.One w/o the weasel.

GatorChamps960608 writes:

Good news for you Vol Fans. Chris Rainey was arrested last night for aggravated stalking; he will definitely miss the game Saturday. This should add more flavor to the orange coolade .

VolunTenMile writes:

in response to listentothemusic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And your poster needs to be smart enough to spell the word 'your' before criticizing someone else's smarts. Case closed.

Lizardgrad89 writes:

in response to GatorChamps960608:

Good news for you Vol Fans. Chris Rainey was arrested last night for aggravated stalking; he will definitely miss the game Saturday. This should add more flavor to the orange coolade .

Arrested for sending a text message. Crazy.

This does nothing for Vol Nation, he had a concussion in the game against USF, he wasn't playing this week anyway.

abnermc writes:

in response to GatorChamps960608:

Good news for you Vol Fans. Chris Rainey was arrested last night for aggravated stalking; he will definitely miss the game Saturday. This should add more flavor to the orange coolade .

34

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to Lizardgrad89:

Arrested for sending a text message. Crazy.

This does nothing for Vol Nation, he had a concussion in the game against USF, he wasn't playing this week anyway.

You fail to mention that the text said "Time to die".
There's a big difference in sending that and sending "LOL".

ghawk writes:

in response to listentothemusic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You need to turn up the radio.

VOLliven2it writes:

Forgiven? That would happen. Forgotten, never will occur. I hope we never forget as a team how it felt to be smacked around and it be perceived that we gave up. I hope it angers us so that we never give up whether it is Florida or TickFever State(nosuchplaceIknow). The point is we can play on beyond the worst scenarios. But we cannot allow the troll motions to cause our team not to believe in themselves and the coaches. All you opinionizers here on Simms or other aspects of our struggles, we don't care. Do not waste cyberspace with your spatulatious blabber. We don't care. We just want our team to do their best. No one can ask anymore than that. If you ask more than that of your team or anyone else, I feel sorry for your pathetic lives. GO BIG ORANGE! Give us something to really remember in a good way on Sept. 18th.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to listentothemusic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Perhaps you need to change the station!

Berry also picked off Jesus Tebow in that game, got drafted higher, makes more money, and starts in the NFL while Tebow is still riding the wood. So tell me again… who won the battle??

CarthageVol writes:

in response to listentothemusic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When using the English language, the word 'your' is used when showing ownership. 'You're' is short for 'you are'. Here, I'll use it in a sentence. 'Your blog demonstrates that you're a dumba&&!!' See? A simple lesson has been learned here today.

tomatosoup writes:

You know, until the lightning started, I thought the Vols had all filled their tanks with tomato soup the night before the game. Let's not give up hope and come VOLS.......fill up on tomato soup Friday night!!!! We will beat Florida!

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to SECFB:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

New jailhouse in Gainesville due to overcrowding from football players....need one.

allvols4life writes:

in response to CarthageVol:

When using the English language, the word 'your' is used when showing ownership. 'You're' is short for 'you are'. Here, I'll use it in a sentence. 'Your blog demonstrates that you're a dumba&&!!' See? A simple lesson has been learned here today.

That made me laugh. Very funny!

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

I cringe every time I read Matt Sims quotes, dressed by GVX in "leadership" clothes. This kid does not have a single step on all the other lambs on the team, being led to slaughter house of almost zero experience. I don't doubt he is the best Dooly has, for now, but he is fighting for his life of respectable showing on the field, exactly the same as any fresh out of high player astonished to find himself starting a game.

Lizardgrad89 writes:

in response to Mule_Days_King:

You fail to mention that the text said "Time to die".
There's a big difference in sending that and sending "LOL".

Um, he probably wouldn't have been arrested if he texted LOL, right? I mean, hopefully we can agree on that much.

My point is that I would never have thought you could text yourself into jail.

I mean, I understand threats and all of that, but what has this country come to when the police can knock on your door, say "we don't like what you wrote" and cart you off to jail?

volinJC writes:

in response to CarthageVol:

When using the English language, the word 'your' is used when showing ownership. 'You're' is short for 'you are'. Here, I'll use it in a sentence. 'Your blog demonstrates that you're a dumba&&!!' See? A simple lesson has been learned here today.

Carthage Vol, that's the funniest thing I've read on this site in weeks.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to Lizardgrad89:

Um, he probably wouldn't have been arrested if he texted LOL, right? I mean, hopefully we can agree on that much.

My point is that I would never have thought you could text yourself into jail.

I mean, I understand threats and all of that, but what has this country come to when the police can knock on your door, say "we don't like what you wrote" and cart you off to jail?

His girlfriend or whatever she is called the police. SHE reported and showed the message to police. They are compelled to act on that.

"Time to die" is about as serious as it gets.

orangecountyvols writes:

One thing I kinda' wish the writers would stop saying is ******* or whomever, never beat this team or that team. I know what they're trying to say, but it's like Sonny Jergenson never beat Dallas etc. Or, Matthew Stafford never beat Florida. It's like 1 against 11 the way it's written. How about "****** and his team never beat so and so."

So better editing would be "all is forgiven if Simms AND the Vols beat Florida."

Notice, no comments here about the Rainey situation.
Even if I wanted to do so, it would be here, not going on the Lizard's site as they do here.

Anyway, one final anecdote about the avalanche in the second half that sent fans to the hospital or some mental ward. All it takes is 1, 2, or 3 big plays to take a team out of the game early. Such as the game against Arkansas in which Tennessee scored 35 in the first quarter, or the Cal game when we jumped out 35-0. They weren't bad teams........it just takes a few huge plays to break a game open and take a team out of the contest.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to utvolfan16:

The kid has played in two games and only one was a battle. Give him a chance. When was the last time you did something for the first time and mastered it?

The first time he spouted his drivel on this site. Instant master at idiocy.

justin35us#209705 writes:

in response to gnm53108:

KNS...Please find another pict of Matt.One w/o the weasel.

That is Darrin Hinshaw I believe. Simms never played under Kiffin

cooper65#432178 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

One thing I kinda' wish the writers would stop saying is ******* or whomever, never beat this team or that team. I know what they're trying to say, but it's like Sonny Jergenson never beat Dallas etc. Or, Matthew Stafford never beat Florida. It's like 1 against 11 the way it's written. How about "****** and his team never beat so and so."

So better editing would be "all is forgiven if Simms AND the Vols beat Florida."

Notice, no comments here about the Rainey situation.
Even if I wanted to do so, it would be here, not going on the Lizard's site as they do here.

Anyway, one final anecdote about the avalanche in the second half that sent fans to the hospital or some mental ward. All it takes is 1, 2, or 3 big plays to take a team out of the game early. Such as the game against Arkansas in which Tennessee scored 35 in the first quarter, or the Cal game when we jumped out 35-0. They weren't bad teams........it just takes a few huge plays to break a game open and take a team out of the contest.

I agree. One of my major irritants is reciting the QB's record against a particular team. You don't hear the commentators saying what an OG's record against a team is. QBs are not alone on the field; it's a team win or loss. For example, Peyton had a great game Sunday against Houston, but for the most part, the rest of the Colts were horrible. Unfortunately the QB gets most of the blame and gets too much credit (except for Peyton who deserves most of the credit).

Lizardgrad89 writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Feeling safe now that he's gone, eh?

Don't. The beatings will continue.

VOLinAthensGA writes:

The most impressive thing Lane and his staff did last year was the gameplan for the Florida game. Dooley and co. need to use it in addition to their own wrinkles. If we execute it properly, we could make this a game. Put that kind of pressure on THEIR Quarterback and we might just win! GO VOLS!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features