Watching with Ward
Tennessee Stat Book
Tyler Bray showed more flashes of his great potential, but came with some costly mistakes this time. The freshman threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns, but he also was sacked four times and threw three interceptions - including one in the second overtime that set the stage for North Carolina to steal a win.
Running backs C-
The Vols averaged less than 1 yard per attempt, another poor outing for a unit that failed late in the season to carry some of the load. Tauren Poole cleared the 1,000-yard mark for the season with his 40 yards on the ground, but neither he nor Rajion Neal were able to consistently find a way to move the chains. They also struggled to pick up blitzes.
Wide receivers B+
Five different targets turned in highlight-worthy grabs, including a couple of touchdowns for star freshmen Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. Seniors Gerald Jones, Luke Stocker and Denarius Moore also closed out their careers with memorable catches.
Offensive line C-
Bray was consistently pressured and struggled with men in his face, with the young offensive line having a hard time keeping defenders away. The Vols didn't have much room to run, and even their end-around game that had been so successful struggled with poor blocking.
Defensive Line B -
Montori Hughes played like the player UT expected well before the season, providing a glimmer of hope heading into the offseason. Stopping the run, though, wasn't exactly sharp and it proved costly at the end.
Nick Reveiz finished his career with a typical outing, flying all over the field and making a number of hits when other players couldn't. Daryl Vareen saw an abnormal amount of snaps, as Derek Dooley searched for someone who could make hits as consistently as Reveiz.
Janzen Jackson, back from personal issues, was the best player on the field for UT's defense, but made a couple costly mistakes. The Vols largely held T.J. Yates in check, but couldn't keep the Tar Heels from flying down the field near the end.
Special teams D-
Daniel Lincoln will have a tough time getting over his missed extra point, which allowed the Tar Heels to kick a field goal to send it into overtime. Chad Cunningham missed a number of opportunities on punts to pin North Carolina deep.
Dooley couldn't do anything about the rule that went against him for the second time this year, but the UT coach might have something to say about it more in the future. The Vols became the poster boys for penalties in the closing seconds and the way substitutions should be handled by officials late in the game, but this time his unit wasn't to blame for having too many men on the field.
The Vols nearly received their karmic reward for the loss at LSU, but a trying season full of adversity will instead carry over into the offseason. There's little consolation now for the Vols, but the future looks bright for Dooley and his young roster. The record just won't show it.