There’s a panic in Knoxville as Tennessee, ranked No. 9 in the preseason, just squeaked by Appalachian State, 20-13, in the opening week of the season.
But ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit channeled his inner Lee Corso and said not so fast. In a Facebook Live chat, Herbstreit doubled down on his confidence in the Vols, whom he picked to win the SEC East, despite the uninspiring performance to open the season.
“Fans go through this every year because they’re nervous and intense, but Tennessee’s going to be fine. If I were a Tennessee fan, I would take that game and throw it in the trash. The team did not show up and appreciate Appalachian State. They escaped, they got outplayed, but found a way to win. They’re going to have a completely different energy about them. In college football, if you play flatlined emotionally, especially on defense in the trenches, you’re going to get exposed.
“They were lucky to find a way to win that game. Appalachian State proved to all of us they were a physical, nasty bunch of football players. I kind of knew that about App State, but Tennessee surprised me that they weren’t locked in in week one. I think they’re peeking ahead. They’ll look very, very different against Virginia Tech.”
Take a look for yourself, with the Tennessee talk beginning around the 11:20 mark: