Tyler Bray picked up where he left off as a freshman, debuting early as a sophomore with eye-popping statistics and a couple more wins. But he had a rough time with Florida and Georgia before breaking his thumb in a loss to the Bulldogs, and neither Matt Simms nor Justin Worley were able to right the ship under center.
Tauren Poole had high hopes for his last season with the Vols, but the senior wasn't able to accomplish many personal or team goals while rushing for 693 yards and struggling to find much rhythm. Marlin Lane flashed his potential as a freshman and found the end zone four times, but nagging injuries slowed him down late in the year.
Wide receivers/Tight ends
The passing game appeared ready to rewrite the record books with Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers exploding early in the season, but Hunter's torn knee ligaments in the third game derailed those plans. Rogers still was productive, but UT didn't have enough depth on the perimeter to thrive when tight end Mychal Rivera had to help as a blocker.
The young group was expected to make strides heading into a second season with mostly the same personnel, and in terms of protecting the passer, the line did that. But the Vols had problems getting push in the ground game, James Stone had snapping issues that forced a change and it became clear another year of growth was needed.
Among the biggest questions rolling into training camp, by the end of the season Malik Jackson and his buddies had developed into one of the strengths of the team. Jackson in particular was a load late in his senior campaign, and Maurice Couch recovered from a sluggish start to show signs of his potential on the inside at tackle moving forward.
Midway through training camp the Vols turned over a pair of starting spots to true freshmen, and they didn't disappoint. Flanked on either side of senior Austin Johnson, who emerged as a big-time contributor as well, A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt lived up to the hype with 136 tackles combined to build even higher expectations for them.
The Vols dismissed one starting safety during training camp and later lost the other to a knee injury, which cut down the options for what looked like the deepest talent pool on defense. Prentiss Waggner was the most consistent option despite having to shuttle between cornerback and safety, and the junior will be an important leader next season.
Aside from one meltdown against Arkansas, the coverage units appeared much more sound in the second season under Derek Dooley. But the punting was hardly reliable, Devrin Young wasn't able to build on an electric start in the return game and kicking field goals wasn't one of the highlights for the Vols during Michael Palardy's sophomore year.
Dooley regularly proved that he had no fear of rolling the dice on fourth downs, either going for it outright or faking a kick, though the Vols failed to capitalize in some critical situations. Dooley's decision to take a redshirt off Justin Worley in the middle of the season and start him without throwing a pass didn't work out all that well, either.
Had the Vols avoided an upset at Kentucky, the chemistry problems the roster seemed to have might never have come to light. But after missing a bowl and seeing a 26-game winning streak over the Wildcats disappear, there was finger-pointing seemingly between the veterans and the younger players that showed some dysfunction.