Tennessee Stat Book
Tyler Bray has a combined 898 yards and nine touchdowns in the past two games. Unlike last week's South Carolina game, which was marred by all-too-familiar late turnovers, Bray managed the offensive effectively during key drives against Troy.
Running backs B
Coaches eased Rajion Neal back into action, leaving most of the carries for Marlin Lane. Lane's 132 yards rushing were a career high and he's earned the right to keep getting carries even when Neal is healthy.
Wide receivers/tight ends A+
Justin Hunter's drop in the first quarter was eyebrow-raising, but his defense — that it was all but impossible to see high passes in the sun — seemed plausible. In any case, Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson finished the day with 18 catches for 400 yards and four touchdowns. Both made incredible catches, and Patterson used his uncanny ability to make defenders miss to tack on extra yards.
Offensive line A
Bray was asked if he got his jersey dirty on Saturday. He replied that the grass stain on his elbow was left over from last week. The offensive line kept him safe again and provided some big holes for Lane to run through. The line will be an advantage the Vols must exploit in their final three games.
Defensive line F
The Vols will be seeing draw plays in their nightmares this week. Troy ran the play up the middle of the field with such consistency and effectiveness that it became predictable in multiple instances. The Trojans kept running it and kept gobbling up yards. They ended the day with 236 rushing yards on 39 carries for a 5.8 yard-per-carry average.
A.J. Johnson led the Vols with 13 tackles but the linebacking corps as a whole was a mess. Missed tackles, missed assignments, missed everything. Same song, different week. The linebackers were once considered the defense's strength. They had little answers against Troy's 721-yard onslaught.
Big plays, big plays, big plays. Troy's receivers enjoyed swaths of open space all afternoon as 10 different players accounted for 38 receptions, 496 yards and three touchdowns. Four different players caught passes of 30 yards or more and starting wideouts Eric Thomas (147 yards, two touchdowns) and Chip Reeves (144 yards, one touchdown) each had career days.
Special teams B
Addressing the media after the game, coach Derek Dooley said, "One thing we did a pretty good job on special teams was fielding all their balls." So there's a positive. Kicker/punter Michael Palardy had an up-and-down day. He put two punts inside the 20 and shanked a third, knocked a two field goals through the posts while missing one, and had two touchbacks on nine kickoffs.
There's not much that can be said about the defense that hasn't already been said, although this was unquestionably the worst performance of the season. If there were an easy solution, it would have been attempted by now.
As Dooley said after the game, a win is much preferable to the alternative — an embarrassing home loss. But it's hard to imagine a win being any uglier or any less helpful to Dooley's cause. Given the way Tennessee's offense is surging and its defense is falling apart, the Vols' only hope of winning its final three games may follow a script similar to the one used today.