Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel // Buy this photo
A week after one of the worst games of his career, Tyler Bray bounced back with a solid performance against Kentucky. He missed on a few home-run plays, but he didn't throw any interceptions. He directed the offense against an overmatched opponent with efficiency. If this is the final game of his Tennessee career, he went out in solid fashion.
Running backs B
A more robust running attack early in the game could have given the Vols more options on offense and pushed them over 500 yards, their normal benchmark. As is customary, Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal split carries, combining for 19 carries and 128 yards, including a 45-yarder by Lane.
Wide receivers/tight ends B
The most sobering goodbye of Senior Day was for seniors Mychal Rivera and Zach Rogers and juniors Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson, who are likely to depart for the NFL draft. It could be decades before Tennessee assembles a group of pass-catchers this good.
Offensive line B
The line turned in a typically workmanlike performance, although Antonio "Tiny" Richardson had a costly (at the time) holding penalty that brought back a touchdown and Bray was under sporadic but hardly intense pressure.
Defensive line C+
The hole opened up for a second-quarter 45-yard touchdown run up the gut by UK running back Jonathan George was wider than the Vols' pregame Power T, but the line tightened up in the second half. Nose guard Daniel McCullers registered a sack.
Of numerous missed tackles by the UT defense, a missed sack attempt by Jordan Williams was the worst. And that's saying something. He redeemed himself two plays later, though, on a 2-yard tackle for a loss on fourth down and added two more backfield tackles and a sack. A.J. Johnson notched 14 tackles and his first career sack, while Jacques Smith notched the unit's third sack.
Two-hundred and forty-five yards passing allowed is scarce compared to recent games, but UK still completed 30 passes. There was one dropped interception and Prentiss Waggner was whistled for defensive holding on an uncatchable ball early in the second half on fourth-and-11. It kept the Cats' drive alive and led to a field goal.
Special teams B
Kicker Michael Palarady made his lone field-goal attempt, but had one extra point blocked. The UT return game was quiet, as was UK's.
Jim Chaney did a nice job of keeping the atmosphere loose this week. With lame-duck coaching staffs on both sides, he told his team to treat the game as a "pure" matchup of "players versus players." There were plenty of smiles after the game, something that's been rare this year.
It wasn't an overly impressive win, but it sure beats the alternative. Tennessee avoided the historic ignominy of finishing the season winless in the SEC while giving a nice send-off to seniors who have weathered one of the most tumultuous eras in Vols football.