Embattled Coach Derek Dooley and his team were down seven points to upset-minded Troy with 3:14 left in the game.
The Vols and Dooley were down, but not out.
A seven-point lead in Saturday's game was nothing to make up.
Dooley scanned the stat sheet after his team came back to take a much needed 55-48 win over the Sun Belt Conference team.
"I've never been in a game like this,'' Dooley said before being assured both teams combined for more than 1,400 yards of offense.
"Is that 1,400 yards? (Actually, 1,439 yards) Holy Jesus. We used to get that many in a season.''
No fan on either side dared risked utter embarrassment by yelling, DEE-FENSE, DEE-FENSE.
"As bad as we were, and we were really bad, we stopped them I guess the last two times and four out of the last five…. That's a bad defense.''
If the Vols had lost to the men of Troy, it likely would have been the final nail in his coaching coffin.
If Dooley is shown the door before or after the season ends, it will be his inability to take corrective steps to improve a horrid defense. He made a huge mistake in hiring defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri, whose players run around like chickens with their heads cut off.
Sunseri might have been a quality assistant for Alabama, but he was not the coordinator and hasn't shown an ability to be a competent defensive coordinator at the SEC level.
The answer we need to get is did Athletics Director Dave Hart play any part in recommending Sunseri?
Against Troy, the Vols would line up in a formation and Troy would run through it. They would change formations. Troy would pass over it. They were gashed over and over by simple draw plays.
"We did everything on the sheet and nothing worked,'' Dooley sighed. "We really didn't have an answer for anything… That starts with coaching.''
The Vols had to outscore the men of Troy 21-8 in the final 15 minutes. Quarterback Tyler Bray was most responsible for the Vols escape, as he threw five touchdown passes on the day.
Even the offense had its problems. Two perfectly thrown Bray passes that would have resulted in touchdown, were dropped. There were mistakes and penalties that should not be happening eight games deep in the season.
Tennessee now has three games remaining in the regular season. They will have to play better against Missouri in Knoxville and Vanderbilt in Nashville before closing Dooley's third chapter against Kentucky in Neyland Stadium.
Unless a miracle occurs, the Vols are going to have to put up big points on the scoreboard with their offense. They certainly can't count on points from their defense or the kicking game.
They now face a Missouri team that gave Florida all it wanted in the Swamp no less. It's a team that could give the Vols trouble and we know James Franklin's Vanderbilt team felt they left one in Knoxville a year ago and would like nothing more than to send Dooley packing.
There is no margin for error now. It's win out or Dooley will likely be in the unemployment line next season.
If Dooley gets a pink slip, it's because of pressure applied by fans, boosters and media. I thought when they hired him, any new coach should get four to five years to rid the program of its leftover problems.
I'm not sure Dave Hart feels the same way. We'll see.
Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at email@example.com.