Tennessee 20, Alabama 34 | Postgame Reflection & Advanced Box Score
Control the controllables.
As a fan, the frustrating part of sports is that you can control so little. You can give money to the school, you can give money to the Volunteer Club. You can show up to the game and scream your head off, and maybe if there's a false start or a delay of game you can high-five the folks around you and claim "that was us!" Supporting your team is a controllable. But from snap to whistle, you influence nothing that happens on the field. The whole game will come and go without your input despite your devotion to it. It's uncontrollable.
It's frustrating to watch something that you love so much unfold in front of you while having so little say in what's actually happening. So we take to the airwaves and the internet to voice our complaints, because that's all we can do, complain. We all think we could coach the game better (which in 99.9% of cases is absurd). We yell about the QB and the OC and the lack of tackling and why didn't they blitz on 3rd down PAAWWWL!?!? So we tweet and yell and post and yell and yet none of it actually makes us feel better, because it's still an uncontrollable. We can't change the outcome of the last game nor affect the outcome of the next game. We're too far removed as fans. Of course, "control the controllables" applies to the team and coaches as well. They can execute better, they can call better plays. Josh Heupel admitted as much in hos post-game press conference. They need to control their controllables, too.
Then add another degree of removal from the game--the referees. Talk about an uncontrollable. Statistically, Tennessee and Alabama were just about dead even throughout the game. In fact, Tennessee beat Alabama in just almost every statistical category. One category Tennessee lost, though--and you know where I'm going with this--was penalties. Tennessee was flagged 8 times for 55 yards, Alabama was penalized once for 5 yards. The Vols gained 22 first downs on Saturday, none by penalty. Bama had 20 first downs, 3 of which (15%) were awarded by penalty. One of those came when UT's Elijah Herring turned to another defensive player and pounded his fist to make a point--allegedly mimicking Bama's snap count. Another was given on a defensive holding penalty that didn't look different than any other pass play for either team all afternoon.
Perhaps most frustrating were the penalties that weren't called, most infamously this:
...wasn't called holding. Alabama scored a touchdown on this play. On the ensuing kickoff, officials determined this: