Lane Kiffin had an offense that couldn't convert on third down.
The Tennessee coach had a defense that failed to create a turnover and repeatedly missed tackles.
But he saved perhaps his harshest criticism for the third phase after the Vols dropped a 26-22 decision to Auburn on Saturday night. UT missed kicks, punts, returners and blocks in another disappointing effort by its special teams, a performance that helped keep the Vols winless in the SEC and send them back to the conference undercard for next week's home date with Georgia (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.).
"The momentum of missing the field goal on the opening drive and (then) the extra point, then having a couple (long) kickoff returns did not help us special teams-wise either," Kiffin said. "I thought we lost in all three phases, which is very disappointing, especially for our SEC home opener.
"We've got to get a lot better on special teams. It's hurting us a lot right now."
For the most part, the wounds are self-inflicted.
UT (2-3, 0-2 SEC) opened the game with an exciting kickoff return from David Oku and quickly moved into field-goal position on the ensuing drive. But once it sputtered, Daniel Lincoln hooked an ugly 39-yard kick left and low to undo the early momentum.
Then after a three-and-out on the next possession, Chad Cunningham followed suit by squibbing a punt off the side of his foot just 27 yards to set up the Tigers near midfield.
From then on the Vols were beat by big returns and missed blocks that kept them from responding with their productive plays. They also looked downright confused at times - doing everything from taking bad penalties to leaping up and straddling a rolling punt after misjudging it.
"It's something that we said when we got here, especially when you're beginning what you're doing in the program and we're trying to establish what we're doing," Kiffin said. "You know there's going to be an adjustment with the offense and with depth, and it takes some time to recruit. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is play special teams, and we've seen that formula work for a lot of people.
"They didn't have maybe an explosive offense and they played OK defense, but they played great special teams, a team like Virginia Tech has done it for years. We've put more emphasis on it than any place I've ever been around or that our staff has ever been around. We've just got to find a better way to do it."
The Vols are clearly trying different methods.
Both Nu'Keese Richardson and David Oku had chances to field kicks, and UT seemed to be tinkering with its rotation more than usual. It's still using starters on coverage units, still confident in Lincoln at kicker and saw some positives from Cunningham.
But like the other two phases, there are underlying issues on special teams that are keeping the Vols from taking off and frustrating the locker room. With only one game left before the bye week, now they have to make sure it doesn't fracture it completely.
"I think it's just our coaches are going to do a really good job of keeping us together, as well as our leaders on this team," defensive end Chris Walker said. "We see how close we can be to being a really good team.
"We're making a lot of mistakes week-in and week-out on offense and defense and special teams, so we've just got to tighten it up and learn from our mistakes, which we're not doing right now."
There's been plenty to learn from lately, and at the moment nobody is excused from class.