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Bucs’ Lovie Smith stops short of saying his team wasn’t ready

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Lovie Smith wouldn’t say his team wasn’t ready to play.

Vote, anyone?

The Bucs were squashed from the opening kickoff in their 42-14 loss to Tennessee. They had a penalty on the first play, got beat for a touchdown on the first drive and quarterback Jameis Winston had his first pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown. The Titans, a 2-14 team a year ago, same as the Bucs, scored on five of their first six possessions.

“I wouldn’t say not ready,” Smith said Monday in his day-after press conference. “We didn’t play well. Why not? There’s a lot of reason why [not]. Whether you want to call it ready or not, to be ready I think you do everything that you think you need to do. Then you get to that game, you are never for sure. It’s happened. That’s all I can say. You can feel like you are ready and stuff does happen sometimes and you just don’t play as well as you need to for one game. That’s where we are. We’re not going to make it anymore. It’s disappointment on a game. These are correctable things and we will [correct them].”

Of course, if it was that easy, the Bucs wouldn’t have made so many mistakes in the first place. Now, traveling to New Orleans to face the Saints seems like a daunting case. Quarterback Drew Brees has shown a bit of age, but offensively, the Saints are still potent.

As for the Bucs, opening day – in front of a sellout crowd – still stings.

“If we would have been on the other side, we wouldn’t have been printing up Super Bowl tickets right now either,” Smith said. “It’s just one game. The season isn’t made on it. There’s a lot of football left to go so you need to keep that in perspective. If everything was fine right now, maybe we’re feeling better right now, but I think it’s not all bad to have more of a sense of urgency early on in the football season. There are some things we need to get corrected. As we look at the video, these aren’t things that can’t be corrected. That’s when it would really be bad. That isn’t the case right now.”

Smith said that this season is not a continuation of the 2-14 nightmare of a year ago.

“Not guys in the locker room and I should hope the fans don’t (think so), because we are 0-1,” Smith said. “That’s all it is, 0-1. We can’t go back. We can’t bring in the Super Bowl of 2002 or anything else. We are 0-1 and we are disappointed about how we played the first game. There’s no more than that. Number two is up.”

As for No. 1, well, the less said about it, the better.

“I can’t tell you in words how disappointed we all are,” Smith said. “As I told the football team, it does count as one loss only. There are a lot of other teams that are disappointed with one week into the season. One disappointing game does not define our season. We won’t let it. This isn’t an old Buc team of the past. This is our 2015 version of the Buccaneers, and we are very disappointed in how we played for one game.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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