By Jimmy Hyams
A bowl game is on the table if Tennessee finishes this season with three wins out of its last five games.
That would suit junior right tackle Drew Richmond just fine.
He’s got some pent up frustration that he would like to relieve.
So what would going to a bowl game mean to the Memphis product?
“It’s the ultimate goal,’’ Richmond said. “That’s the only goal – to get better as a team, to get to a bowl. That’s all we want to do.’’
Why is that so important?
“We were the worst team in Tennessee history last year,’’ Richmond said of the 4-8 season, 0-8 in SEC play. “That doesn’t feel good at all.
“To have an opportunity to go to a bowl game to finish on a high note, that means everything to a lot of people around here.’’
Richmond knows it will be a battle to make a bowl – which would be on the fourth in eight years for the Vols.
“We’re not where we need to be,’’ he said. “You’re never gonna be where you need to be, where you want to be. You just gotta keep climbing the mountain, and I feel like that’s what we’re doing.’’
Richmond was upset with Tennessee’s performance in a 58-21 home loss to top-ranked Alabama after beating a ranked Auburn team on the road the week before.
“I don’t want people to feel Auburn was a fluke win,’’ Richmond said.
Richmond said the team will keep pushing “until we get everything right.’’
That starts with a game at South Carolina this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. UT has lost two in a row and five of the last eight to the Gamecocks.
Moreover, the Vols are 0-6 against South Carolina coach Will Muschamp (2-0 at USC, 4-0 while at Florida).
South Carolina is a seven-point favorite.
Rebounding from the Alabama defeat has been difficult, Richmond admitted.
“It’s not easy at all,’’ Richmond said of moving past the Bama bashing. “It was hard. I’m still a bit disappointed. But we’ve got to move on to South Carolina. We can’t let a game like that deter us from what we’re trying to do these next five weeks.’’
Richmond sees a “window of opportunity’’ to improve UT’s record and “make a late push.’’
Richmond said he’s confident the Vols can finish strong and that coach Jeremy Pruitt will accept nothing less than maximum effort.
“Coach Pruitt is tough, he’s hard, he’s really hard,’’ Richmond said. `But Coach Pruitt has got a passion and Coach Pruitt wants to win just as bad as anybody.’’