Coming on the heels of the best three-game stretch of his career, Tyler Bray's abysmal performance Saturday was both inexplicable and incredibly damaging. His bizarre second-quarter benching probably didn't help matters, but Bray started badly and got worse.
Running backs B
The running game was at times the only thing working for Tennessee's offense. Marlin Lane, who seems to have pushed his way into the No. 1 tailback role, crossed the 100-yard mark in the third quarter.
Wide receivers/tight ends D
Only those players and coaches sitting in offensive film room on Monday (and, gosh, won't that be fun?) will know exactly what happened during Saturday's debacle. But it certainly seemed Bray was not often on the same page as his receivers, particularly Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson also loses points for his taunting penalty and his lack of effort after a pass intended for him was intercepted.
Offensive line C
Bray didn't seem to be under an inordinate amount of pressure on Saturday, so that can't be blamed for his bad day. The line seemed to open some big holes for the running backs. While linemen didn't produce the barrage of false starts that plagued the unit last week, there were still too many mistakes.
Defensive line C
In assessing the big plays that plagued Tennessee's defense (again), it's hard to know how much blame to assess to each unit. Could the 72-yard screen pass on the game's first play have been snuffed out by the line? What about the long runs early in the third quarter? The Vols didn't do as good of a job flushing Jordan Rodgers out of the pocket as they did a week ago against Missouri, but as usual, this group doesn't seem like the defense's weak link.
A.J. Johnson posted double-digit tackle numbers, something that's now routine for him. Herman Lathers had a quieter day. This unit misses Curt Maggitt, who is out for the season with an ACL injury.
Injuries and suspensions have thinned this unit even more than usual, so it's probably a good thing that Saturday's result wasn't worse. The secondary got a little handsy with Vandy receivers a couple times but didn't get called for pass interference.
Special Teams B
Michael Palardy had a great day punting the ball, but he made a poor throw on a fake punt that was seemingly coach Derek Dooley's last-ditch effort to stay in the game.
You are what your bubble-gum card says you are, Dooley has said in the past. And the stats on the back of Dooley's card say he just lost to Vanderbilt in Nashville for the first time since 1982, dropping Tennessee to 0-7 in SEC play for the first time in its history.
The rhetoric about playing for a bowl berth will no longer work this week, and it's not difficult to imagine Tennessee losing to Kentucky next week. In fact, given the flat performance in Nashville, it would be hard to pick the Vols to finish anything other than 0-8.