Tennessee fans have become used to watching Hendon Hooker hit Jalin Hyatt streaking down the sideline for a touchdown. So, it was no surprise that Hyatt was Tennessee’s leading receiver on Saturday.
Hyatt finished the game against Missouri with 7 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. Sounds like a good day, right? Not in Hyatt’s eyes.
“I went over to (Hyatt) on the sideline and I told him ‘good game’ at the end of the game,” lineman Cooper Mays told Off The Hook Sports. “And he was like, ‘No, no, I had two drops. I had a bad game.’ I looked at him. I was like, ‘What? Do you know when a bad game from you is seven for 150-plus with a touchdown or two or whatever, I can deal with that. If that’s a bad game for you, then we can work out the rest of the stuff. Just give me at least a bad game every time.”
Despite the good day statiscally, Hyatt was worried about his two drops in the first half. For a receiver like Hyatt, dropped passes are very uncharacteristic.
“Jalin is and has been that guy that’s super sure-handed and will make that play when that balls in the air going down the field,” tight end Jacob Warren said. “Everyone starts running down there because we all just assume and we believe that he’s going to catch the ball. So you see two uncharacteristic drops back-to-back in that series and it’s just like, okay, that was weird.”
As a whole, Tennessee didn’t play very well in the first half. Still, going into halftime, the score was 28-17 with Vols on top.
Tennessee seemed like a different team in the second half, hanging 38 points on Missouri. Hyatt then played like the receiver Tennessee fans have come to know.
It wasn’t too long ago when dropped passes were common for the team in Orange and White. The culture around Tennessee has changed. Dropped passes are no longer acceptable for the Volunteers.
“If your program’s in the right spot and you got the right type of people in the program, the right type of players, competitors, I think everybody would probably judge themself that harshly,” Mays said. “It’s really hard in football.
“People that don’t play don’t really understand it as much. You could have a great game for like 65 out of 70 plays or probably even like 67 out of 70 know, (but) if you just have three bad plays, like it can ruin your whole perspective, the whole game, me getting that holding penalty, I felt like I played terrible the whole day based off of one or two bad blocks…Competitors will judge themselves very harshly every time. I think that does speak to the type of players that we’ve got here for sure.”
Tennessee has proven itself, as Mays puts it, to be full of competitors in the locker room. Under past coaches, like Butch Jones or Jeremy Pruitt, the attitude Hyatt and Mays have about their performances probably would not have been common place. There’s a difference between surviving and thriving.
The Volunteers want to compete for championships, so they have to hold themselves to a championship standard.
“I think you raise the bar and you raise the standard and you understand what the standard is,” Warren said. You know there’s a team standard, but there’s also a standard that each individual person has for themselves on how they want to play.”