As September ended in 1967, Tennessee fans knew more about their team late this afternoon than they did this morning. The Vols had lost their season opener against UCLA two weeks earlier, so Vol fans didn’t know what the Vols had in store for them for the rest of the season.
The intervening two weeks saw demanding workouts to correct inadequacies that had been exposed against the Bruins.
The demands placed on the players showed up in the contest against Auburn. Tennessee played better on both sides of the ball, taking a 27-13 victory over the Tigers. Auburn made but one first down rushing.
The team went on to be one of the school’s finest, compiling a 9-1 regular season record and winning the SEC title. It was the school’s first crown since 1956 and would be followed by another in 1969.
When one player was injured, another one stepped in and the Vols didn’t miss a beat. Bob Johnson and a dominating offensive line led the way. The Vols played three quarterbacks and didn’t miss a beat. Linebackers Steve Kiner and Jack Reynolds, both sophomores, led the Vol defenders. It was a special time.
The Vols beat Alabama for the first time since 1960, and defeated Ole Miss for the first time since 1958. LSU fell the week after the Alabama game.
It was truly a T-E-A-M, in a time all the myriad pieces came together.
Back in December 1963, when he first got to Knoxville, Doug Dickey had said it would take four years to get the Vols back to the top.
This was the fourth year. The Vols were on top of the conference. It was, as always, a great time to be a Vol fan.
The path to the top started at 2 p.m. today. When the dust settled, it was Tennessee 27, Auburn 13.
The Vols were back. Right where they belonged.
Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014