JOE BIDDLE: Vanderbilt, Vols pull off Top 25 upsets - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Vanderbilt, Vols pull off Top 25 upsets

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It was a Saturday that Vanderbilt and Tennessee fans won't soon forget.

Both unranked SEC teams pulled off a twin kill of two Top 25 conference teams.

They are two teams whose programs have struggled to make significant progress -- Vanderbilt for many years, the Vols since Phillip Fulmer's final season in 2008.

Vanderbilt beat No. 15 Georgia, 31-27, in a come-from-behind win after losing its starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels. He was sacked with just over five minutes left in the first half with the Commodores trailing, 17-14.

Tennessee also came from behind to upset No. 11 South Carolina, 23-21 in Knoxville, dropping the Gamecocks to 3-2 in SEC play.

For Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin, he insisted that his first signature win in his two-plus seasons here, was no more important than beating Austin Peay and Presbyterian. His words, not mine. He felt good for the community, the fans, the Vanderbilt students and everyone on campus.

Franklin lauded the perseverance his players have shown. They had to dig deep against Georgia.
"We are 1-0 this week. I don't want you guys to misinterpret my emotions. My emotion is not for the win. My emotion is for the community, for this campus,'' Franklin said.

"We've had significant wins and signature wins from day one. You come in and take over a program that won four games in two years, 2-10 and 2-10. UConn was a signature win. Presbyterian was a signature win. I can go on and on. We never bought into that. We believe that you keep working hard and you keep a great attitude Sunday through Friday and the Saturdays will take care of themselves.''
Franklin preaches one game at a time. To him, every game carries the same weight. He has the Vanderbilt team singing the same song. There is no questioning Franklin has been a breath of fresh air for the Vanderbilt program. He has instilled a pride, a belief system, a work ethic that hasn't been seen by these eyes in too many years to count.

"Georgia is a good opponent, but we feel the same way when we have a win against Austin Peay or UMass or any team where we're able to execute our game plan to get a W,'' said leading receiver Jordan Matthews after a career high 11 receptions in a game. "They're all great wins. A win is a win.''

Franklin also espouses the next man up maxim. Never was it tested like it was against Georgia after Carta-Samuels went down. No sweat. Patton Robinette stood tall in relief, running for a touchdown and passing for a touchdown. He finished nine-of-15 for 107 yards. He was intercepted once, sacked twice.

Prior to Saturday's game, the former Maryville High star had thrown only five passes this season, completing four. All of them came in a rout of Austin Peay. 

Carta-Samuels not only suffered a leg injury, but he was mourning the death of his grandfather, former Vanderbilt baseball player Tom Samuels. Carta-Samuels had flown to San Jose, Cal., during the off week to see his younger brother's football game. He didn't tell his grandfather he was coming and when they saw each other at the ball game, the surprise visit brought tears to his grandfather's eyes.

Two days after Carta-Samuels returned to Nashville, his grandfather suffered a stroke and never made it out of the hospital. They were close, as Carta-Samuels' grandfather had paid his tuition a semester when he transferred from Wyoming and had to sit out a season.

Franklin didn't speculate how long Carta-Samuels will be out, but Robinette and a stingy defense that held Georgia All-American Aaron Murray to a season low 114 yards passing proved to be the difference. Vandy's defense held the Dawgs to a season low 221 yards. It allowed the Commodores to score 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.

Franklin wasn't shy about taking chances during the game. A fake field goal from the Georgia 3-yard line resulted in a Carey Spear touchdown run that gave his team a 14-10 lead. Franklin went to the well once too often on the next series when Vanderbilt lined up in a most unconventional formation and Carta-Samuels was picked off by Georgia's Shaq Williams, who returned it 39 yards for a touchdown to give Georgia a 17-14 lead. But Franklin's team was also a perfect 5-for-5 in the red zone in a game that was wild and wooly.

But to Franklin, it was just another day in the SEC.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at 

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