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Bituli’s Special Teams play one Vols fans have yearned for

by | Oct 29, 2019

Daniel Bituli played lights out on Saturday night. The star senior linebacker recorded 15 tackles, 11 of which were solo tackles and 1 for loss. He blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown as well. A play that essentially put the game out of reach for South Carolina.

Bituli has been one of the faces of this in-season culture change for the Vols, and that play was a perfect example of it. The inside linebacker rarely came off the field during Saturday night’s game, as his stat line shows. It was ironic that after one of his best defensive performances, he was rewarded with arguably the biggest play of the game on special teams.

Bituli’s backbreaking blocked punt was something we have not seen from a Vols team in a long, long time. Tennessee fans constantly wait on the inevitable to happen, in terms of losing a ball game. Many of you were not comfortable with the 20 point lead late in the game, rightfully so. Fans have been victims of too many jaw-dropping, head-scratching moments in recent years.

Bituli did something that Tennessee fans are not accustomed to anymore; break the will of the opposing team. That blocked punt closed the door on South Carolina and sent the Gamecocks home with their heads hanging. Something that Tennessee was not able to do for three straight years.

This type of play was a staple for Tennessee teams of old, and frankly is a staple of all winning programs. This type of play is one that you expect of your football team on a weekly basis, especially your senior leaders. It is the type of play that Tennessee fans have yearned for. It brought back thoughts of Travis Stephens running through tackles in The Swamp in 2001 to seal a victory over Florida, Jason Witten hauling in a streaking touchdown pass in the 6th overtime against Arkansas, or Joey Kent breaking the game wide-open against Alabama on play number one.

Bituli has had a lot to go against him during his Tennessee career, but he has always stayed the course and been a fixture in the middle of the defense. He is leading a senior class down one final stretch of games that will help determine some of their legacy on Rocky Top.

Just like the ending of the 1988 season where the Vols flipped the script to start a run of dominance, Bituli, and his fellow seniors find themselves in a similar situation. Bituli’s back-breaking punt could go down as one of the major talking points in Tennessee history if the Vols can carry through with the resurgence of Rocky Top.

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Matt Ray

Matt Ray

Recruiting Analyst

Matt Ray is the managing content editor for VR2. He founded VR2 in November of 2017. He is an FWAA Member and covers Tennessee prospects across the country from the Opening Regional Camp series to Under Armour All-American game and everything in between.

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