Tennessee-Troy Report Card

Tennessee running back Marlin Lane (15) carries the ball against Troy at Neyland Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. Tennessee defeated Troy 55-48. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee running back Marlin Lane (15) carries the ball against Troy at Neyland Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. Tennessee defeated Troy 55-48. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Quarterbacks A

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.

Linebackers F

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.

Secondary F

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.

Coaching C

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.

Overall D

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.

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Comments » 129

BigOrangeDave writes:

Finally, you give the defense the grades it deserves. Way to go!

FWBVol writes:

This is a fair report card. This was a D performance thanks to the undefendable defense. I'd give Chaney an A for the offense and Sunseri a F for the defense as far coaching so it balances out to a C.

Fire Sunseri and give Dale Jones a chance. He's been a defense at a I-AA school and he is a UT guy that might not be afraid of taking a job that probably won't last more than a year if the defense doesn't turn things around.

thevoice writes:

in response to BigOrangeDave:

Finally, you give the defense the grades it deserves. Way to go!

G for gassed.

Retiredvol writes:

I never thought we could be this bad and we aren't. 3 decent recruiting years and the worst defense in Vol history. It is time for a change.

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

Missouri's OC is drawing up their game plan...run draw plays all game and gash UT's D for about 600+ yards.

OLROCKYTOP writes:

Defense gets an "I" for incompetent.

GloryDays writes:

This maybe the first report card from theKNS that I agree with ever.

DennisVols writes:

If UT had played a team that had a decent defense this would have been another loss. There is no way aroound this. The defense is as bad as it has ever been, Trying to turn players, who were taught to run a 4-3, into a 3-4 is just as bad as trying to take an offense that was recruited to play pro style into a spread ("clawfense"). That move cost one of UT greatest coaches his job. Why should we keep this coach for his decision. Dooley picked a group of coaches that most of which bailed when things got tough last year. This years picks are no better. With this kind of decision making do you really expect things will get better next year?
Enough is enough. It is year 3, we were suppose to be better this year and I just do not see it. The running game is better and that is about the only improvement.
Keeping it Real
GoVols!!!

Weatherman writes:

It is disheartening to actually come to grips with how bad we are. No defense, no kicking game...both of which are fixable. And yet, they are not fixing it! Come on Tennessee--coaches, players, fans, and Athletic Dept. lets get this thing done...do what you have to do to make us a force in the SEC East again!

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to DennisVols:

If UT had played a team that had a decent defense this would have been another loss. There is no way aroound this. The defense is as bad as it has ever been, Trying to turn players, who were taught to run a 4-3, into a 3-4 is just as bad as trying to take an offense that was recruited to play pro style into a spread ("clawfense"). That move cost one of UT greatest coaches his job. Why should we keep this coach for his decision. Dooley picked a group of coaches that most of which bailed when things got tough last year. This years picks are no better. With this kind of decision making do you really expect things will get better next year?
Enough is enough. It is year 3, we were suppose to be better this year and I just do not see it. The running game is better and that is about the only improvement.
Keeping it Real
GoVols!!!

The VOLS abandoned the 3-4 after the Mississippi State game...And they still suc**

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to Weatherman:

It is disheartening to actually come to grips with how bad we are. No defense, no kicking game...both of which are fixable. And yet, they are not fixing it! Come on Tennessee--coaches, players, fans, and Athletic Dept. lets get this thing done...do what you have to do to make us a force in the SEC East again!

Get a proven coach and get rid of the loser WAC coach with the famous last name. Reminds me of Mike Shula at Alabama, except Shula could win a big one once in a while

Rugby2 writes:

in response to DennisVols:

If UT had played a team that had a decent defense this would have been another loss. There is no way aroound this. The defense is as bad as it has ever been, Trying to turn players, who were taught to run a 4-3, into a 3-4 is just as bad as trying to take an offense that was recruited to play pro style into a spread ("clawfense"). That move cost one of UT greatest coaches his job. Why should we keep this coach for his decision. Dooley picked a group of coaches that most of which bailed when things got tough last year. This years picks are no better. With this kind of decision making do you really expect things will get better next year?
Enough is enough. It is year 3, we were suppose to be better this year and I just do not see it. The running game is better and that is about the only improvement.
Keeping it Real
GoVols!!!

I think the passing game is better too :)

Give Blood Play Ruby

oldster writes:

Until today I thought the front 7 had improved and only the secondary blew chunks. Because of that, I would give their coaches a break - but I would fire the two defensive back coaches (never liked that idea in the first place) and the co-ordinator. If Sunseri coaches the linebackers, I would keep him on in that limited role (at least UT would have a chance of getting something from the most overpaid man in America) and let a graduate assistant co-ordiate the defense. He might not be experienced but, really, could he do worse? Dooley may have to go, but Sunseri and those two db coaches absolutely MUST. They are in over their heads and UT is drowning (in their incompetency).

vols_fan_n_tx writes:

I know that Hunter and Patterson had unbelievable days against an overmatched secondary, but how do you give receivers an A+ when 2 TD passes were dropped?

BufordTJustice writes:

School record 721 yards allowed by our "defense" today. Against a 3rd place Sun-Belt team. At home. Dooley pees sitting down.
I want EVERY COACH FIRED BY MORNING except Chaney and Jay Graham. Chaney as interim H.C. and O.C. Jay Graham as a quality control, and Herman Lathers as D.C.of base 4-3 D..with Jay Graham making substitutions for nickel, dime, etc.

jack4444 writes:

Coaching a C?

The time out on field goal defense as Toy lined up with the score 28-10 changed the game. Troy reconsiders and goes on a 38-13 run.

The kicking game is supposed to be Derek's forte. Second time out this year for field goal defense.

7-2-1

Prostar writes:

I can agree with most all of the report card. Without a doubt this is the worst defense I've ever seen. Week 9 and we've actually gotten worse. I only hope Dave Hart has really been working the phone lines getting a new coach lined up and a quality staff. If I am a recruit and I have other options, why would I want to come to Tennessee and play under these circumstances?

alfrizzle097 writes:

Set records on offense, make an A.

Set records on defense, make an F.

I SENSE FAVORITISM!

UTKin1992 writes:

in response to vols_fan_n_tx:

I know that Hunter and Patterson had unbelievable days against an overmatched secondary, but how do you give receivers an A+ when 2 TD passes were dropped?

I know! What's that A+ nonsense!? They looked horrible out of the gate!

Coaching a C? How about a D-? At best...

jbc writes:

Having a separate cornerbacks coach and safeties coach is a mistake I believe.

Fuller made the same mistake years ago when he had an offensive tackles coach and a center/guards coach.

Both groups have to be essentially a single entity.

I think that is unlikely with two coaches.

WhoDat writes:

Worst defensive performance ever in UT history, should be an F-.

oldster writes:

in response to jack4444:

Coaching a C?

The time out on field goal defense as Toy lined up with the score 28-10 changed the game. Troy reconsiders and goes on a 38-13 run.

The kicking game is supposed to be Derek's forte. Second time out this year for field goal defense.

7-2-1

Had to do it. The wrong people were on the field. They may have had too many, too. Neither the coaches nor the players can count to eleven. I played on one of the worst high school football teams in the history of TN and even we never had the wrong number of players on the field. I.e. not even that bad a team is as stupid as UT's (although calling the Vol defense a team is an insult to the term).

oldster writes:

in response to UTKin1992:

I know! What's that A+ nonsense!? They looked horrible out of the gate!

Coaching a C? How about a D-? At best...

I wish that the people who gave you grades in school grade as you do the Vols. If they had, I bet you would not have a job.

TNVOLFN writes:

in response to FWBVol:

This is a fair report card. This was a D performance thanks to the undefendable defense. I'd give Chaney an A for the offense and Sunseri a F for the defense as far coaching so it balances out to a C.

Fire Sunseri and give Dale Jones a chance. He's been a defense at a I-AA school and he is a UT guy that might not be afraid of taking a job that probably won't last more than a year if the defense doesn't turn things around.

Dale Jones is the man, not just as a former VOL, but as a defensive coordinator... (I have first hand knowledge of his ability)

snafu14u#241639 writes:

These grades are fine. Nicely done. Do we need to start having a AD grade? It takes defense to win in the SEC, not so much in other conferences but in the SEC it is mandatory. We have a defense that actually gets worse as the season goes on, and I don't think I've ever seen that at UT. If they were bad then they were bad all year, worse against ranked teams but consistantly bad, not worse as the season went. Something odd about this whole scenario. My point at this time is did Hart make this Sanseri hire or did Dooley? Who evaluated the personnel and decided that this version of the 3-4 was a doable idea. Learning curve....you bet. But this? I don't get it. And if you think Vandy is a win (at Vandy), then Happy Holidaze to you my Big Orange Brother. BonzaiVol

TNFootbo writes:

This defense doesn't deserve an F; however, that's the lowest grade we're allowed to give it.

Dalton writes:

in response to BufordTJustice:

School record 721 yards allowed by our "defense" today. Against a 3rd place Sun-Belt team. At home. Dooley pees sitting down.
I want EVERY COACH FIRED BY MORNING except Chaney and Jay Graham. Chaney as interim H.C. and O.C. Jay Graham as a quality control, and Herman Lathers as D.C.of base 4-3 D..with Jay Graham making substitutions for nickel, dime, etc.

You left out Pittman..he and JG are the performers on this staff and the only holdovers (maybe Hinshaw)if there is a change of regime. I'm loyal to a fault...I defended Coach Fulmer on this board until the Wyoming game of his Waterloo season. I was looking not so much for a major win this season but just the look of a team buying into what Coach Dooley is teaching.
..a parallel example-the New York Jets under Rich Kotite...bumbling uninspired mess, the very next season with little to no upgrade in talent under blowhard Bill Parcells they almost make the playoffs. A head coach doesn't just teach...he instills a mindset and methodology towards winning. That's why the great ones have a job as long as they want one (see Bill Snyder at 72) If Coach Dooley is back next year I'll be back cheering as loyal Volunteer fan but the zip is gone.

woodcutter writes:

This is like giving a high school senior a fifth grade test and praising him for passing!

vol98champ writes:

Troy lost to Miss St 30-24. Are they that good?
Troy lost to Fla Atlantic 37-24.
Troy beat Fla International 38-37.
Fla Atl and Fla Int are combined 4-15. Are they that bad?
UT does not have a defense. Whoever hired these defensive coaches and recruited these defenseless players should be ashamed.

shoelessvol#236864 writes:

Can't say that I have EVER seen a worse defense on the field at Tennessee. They are a total embarassment to every former player that ever put on the orange. How can they be that bad? We had returning 9 starters from last years team that actually played solid D all year and kept us in games. What in the HELL was the thinking to go to a 3/4 when the 4/3 was working reasonably well. Yesterday we had 6 d-baOcks in the game and still couldn't cover my mother! Whoever made the decision to hire Sunseri should be FIRED at the end of the season! Offense really was on ALL cyclinders...really fun to watch them go and go and go!!

tomnncvol writes:

I think the defensive line needs an f--. Its probably the root of our defensive problems. They can't pressure the quarterback at all. That makes the defensive backs look even worse. No pressure and any quarterback can find open receivers.

MikeNPS writes:

Why is Sunseri still employed at UT? What a total disaster he has been.

Classof72 writes:

The quarterback should get an A+. He was special. Remember, he had two touchdowns dropped. He took good care of the ball.

Chaney and the offensive staff have done a very nice job this year. The Vols scored well against everyone but Florida and Bama(understandable). It would be nice if the new coach could keep the offensive staff.

I was embarrassed for Coach Dooley, Coach Sunseri and the defensive staff. They were, em-bare-assets awful. Talk about being exposed. Troy pulled their pants down, spanked 'em, and laughed at them in front of everybody. It's acceptable for a defense to have a bad game (not this bad), but not an entire season like this. The defensive players are better than this. They deserve better coaching than this.

killdevil writes:

I appreciate his efforts but BRAY is not playing a defense that is as talented

KFDLaw writes:

Time for CDD to change zip codes.

BigSwitch writes:

Fast-forward to next year. No changes are made.
Can you imagine how many points and yards Oregon would put on this defense? Surely Dave Hart is a wise enough man to not let the UT fans go though this again next year .............. if not worse.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to OLROCKYTOP:

Defense gets an "I" for incompetent.

Exactly, a perfect grade. They quit 30 minutes into the Florida game and never returned.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to vol98champ:

Troy lost to Miss St 30-24. Are they that good?
Troy lost to Fla Atlantic 37-24.
Troy beat Fla International 38-37.
Fla Atl and Fla Int are combined 4-15. Are they that bad?
UT does not have a defense. Whoever hired these defensive coaches and recruited these defenseless players should be ashamed.

I think they are trying to send a strong message. We dont want these clowns as coaches. Please give us an alternative. I think it will finally register with the money clowns after next week.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to BigSwitch:

Fast-forward to next year. No changes are made.
Can you imagine how many points and yards Oregon would put on this defense? Surely Dave Hart is a wise enough man to not let the UT fans go though this again next year .............. if not worse.

Records for both programs would be set

terrytennessee writes:

in response to Classof72:

The quarterback should get an A+. He was special. Remember, he had two touchdowns dropped. He took good care of the ball.

Chaney and the offensive staff have done a very nice job this year. The Vols scored well against everyone but Florida and Bama(understandable). It would be nice if the new coach could keep the offensive staff.

I was embarrassed for Coach Dooley, Coach Sunseri and the defensive staff. They were, em-bare-assets awful. Talk about being exposed. Troy pulled their pants down, spanked 'em, and laughed at them in front of everybody. It's acceptable for a defense to have a bad game (not this bad), but not an entire season like this. The defensive players are better than this. They deserve better coaching than this.

I completely agree with this post.
Go Vols!

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to killdevil:

I appreciate his efforts but BRAY is not playing a defense that is as talented

I think the 1998 defense on this team would make for a winner with Bray. He's maturing daily but your right he does not have a signature win. The Vandy game is shaping up to be his last chance to beat a decent team.

volinlm writes:

Thinking back two years ago (I think), the Vol offense couldn't stay on the field..3 and out, 3 and out. And the defense was not bad, not great but not bad. Tons of freshmen playing. Now the offense lights up the scoreboard, we recruited Cordarelle Patterson, who's special and fun to watch. Now the defense has gotten horrible, in passing situations particularly. I think Sunseri gave them too much to think about in the first few games (for young guys)because he was used to coaching Alabama talent. We need experience and speed. Even when covered, they ran by our guys all day except when UT went to the prevent defense in the end. Sunseri has to know what he's doing or Saban wouldn't have kept him around. But, being a great linebackers coach does not necessarily make him a great DC. It may cost him (and Dooley) his job.

Mr_Bandman writes:

To win any of our last 3 games, we will have to rely on 2 things:

1. We must score on EVERY possession.
2. The opponent must have an off day.

suttree writes:

721 yards to Troy.
110 ranked defense in D1.
9 returning starters that were ranked 27 in 2011.
Coaching is the issue.
Changes coming after Kentucky.

1939flyingwedge writes:

In the old days some offensive players played defense too......just a thought...

mocsandvolsfan writes:

A few times I've said that we need to outscore them with just making sure we stayed ahead.lol This wasn't what I meant. In high school our middle linebacker played the whole season with two swollen ankles and did better than our defense. I think he was an all-stater but that was a long time ago. The point is you never stop playing and you never give up. This game was a hard lesson for our D(or lack of). YOu can't give this game any better than a C because of the defense. But the D got us back in it at the end? A overall C is fair.

Many "real" fans on here are forgetting we won. IMHO this was a better team(on offense) than Memphis was when the Cobb brothers beat us.(or played us close I don't remember really). But those two guys were fast.

I just cannot believe that this Troy line were that much better than our D line to run up the middle like that. I can't believe we are so slow in the secondary that we let them outmaneuver us for big pass plays on 3rd down the whole first and most of the second halves. I can't believe Troy didn't pass it every play for 20-30 yards. I'm guessing Troy was just too winded on offense or we'd have lost. I can't believe I sound like a "troll". hehe

Seriously. We won!! I for one am happy we won.
Thanks Bray and offense for not quitting. Thank you defense for coming through when it counted.
Thank you Sunseri for coming to UT and trying at least. It's not my opinion that matters for you or anyone involved at UT but if you stay another year please try something that'll work. Let the guys play to their natural abilities some at least. I don't believe that's what is happening now.

99gator writes:

in response to DennisVols:

If UT had played a team that had a decent defense this would have been another loss. There is no way aroound this. The defense is as bad as it has ever been, Trying to turn players, who were taught to run a 4-3, into a 3-4 is just as bad as trying to take an offense that was recruited to play pro style into a spread ("clawfense"). That move cost one of UT greatest coaches his job. Why should we keep this coach for his decision. Dooley picked a group of coaches that most of which bailed when things got tough last year. This years picks are no better. With this kind of decision making do you really expect things will get better next year?
Enough is enough. It is year 3, we were suppose to be better this year and I just do not see it. The running game is better and that is about the only improvement.
Keeping it Real
GoVols!!!

it isn't the switch to the 3-4.

i'm sorry. that's a tired excuse. there is no way anyone should look this bad in november.

i don't care if the instruction they have been receiving is in arabic.

the coaching sucks. players have issues too.

period. end of story. next case

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to woodcutter:

This is like giving a high school senior a fifth grade test and praising him for passing!

If the High School Sr.were a football or basketball player, then he should be praised.That is about the level most are on.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to 1939flyingwedge:

In the old days some offensive players played defense too......just a thought...

I made an "iron man football" joke on an earlier article/game with some seriousness behind it. I was thinking yesterday that if Hunter keeps dropping passes that maybe he'd make a great defender.lol BUT he'd have to make contact.
Surely some of those talented receivers can make tackles. I'm guessing a whole lot of them played O and D in high school.

Sir_Spanky writes:

On those draw plays, AJ Johnson was the only defender you could see behind the line, and he couldn't get off a block from an offensive lineman. Result - big yardage. Over and over. No alignment changes. Nothing. Just the same thing, over and over.

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