Matt Simms wasn't looking for a brighter side.
Shortly after his return to the Tennessee lineup at quarterback wrapped up, the senior was back at the postgame podium and breaking himself down in brutal, honest fashion.
The receivers dropped balls that were thrown pretty well, Simms again proved he could take a hit and he was praised for his ability to manage UT's running game against one of the best defenses in the nation. But other than a chance to knock a little rust off on Saturday at Neyland Stadium, Simms wasn't able to do much with the opportunity he'd been waiting nearly a year for and was visibly bothered by it after a 38-7 loss to No. 1 LSU.
"I played terrible," Simms said. "Simple as that. I played terrible.
"It was tough, and it starts with me. I'm just really disappointed in myself."
He kept the finger pointed at himself following his first outing since taking over thanks to Tyler Bray's broken thumb, an injury that puts Simms back in charge for at least a month and possibly the rest of the regular season.
There were some ready-made excuses available, starting with the aggressive, physical defense the Vols (3-3, 0-3 SEC) were facing and including issues that had plagued them even when Bray was at the helm.
The offensive line didn't allow a sack but wasn't able to take all the pressure off Simms in the pocket or keep him from taking some vicious shots from the Tigers (7-0, 4-0 SEC). The running game was improved with Simms able to check UT into some better plays, though 111 yards on 29 carries doesn't exactly qualify as lighting it up on the ground. And while Da'Rick Rogers appeared to embrace the challenge the LSU secondary was providing, he finished with just three receptions for 63 yards and contributed to the handful of catchable balls the receivers put on the ground.
But even with all that on the table, Simms shouldered the blame for an ugly 6-of-20, 128-yard passing performance that included a pair of interceptions on deep balls, with the picks clearly at the front of his mind.
"I mean, I felt good," Simms said. "Obviously I was looking forward to this game, but the one interception there, I mean, both interceptions in the first half were just terrible decisions.
"On the one play, where I tried to throw the post to Rajion (Neal), I just read it as the wrong coverage, and they made me pay for it. I'm just extremely disappointed in myself for those two plays. They ended up hurting us."
The first cost the Vols a touchdown that opened the scoring and staked LSU to an early lead after a scoreless first quarter, though it was the 89-yard return by Morris Claiborne that really did the damage.
The second didn't actually end up producing anything for the Tigers after UT responded to the turnover by forcing a quick three-and-out on defense. But with the Vols unable to ever establish a rhythm or find a bit of consistency offensively, just one mistake was all it really took for LSU to be on its way to ruining the hopes Simms had of a happy return.
"I think in any game versus any opponent, really, you just can't have mental mistakes like that, breakdowns in execution of a play," Simms said. "You know, we didn't help ourselves, and I definitely didn't help the offensive line by turning it over twice like I did. And I definitely didn't put the defense in a good position either by turning it over twice like that.
"I'm just disappointed in myself, and I need to get better."