Vols get low marks in Missouri game report card

Vols get low marks in Missouri game report card

Photo by Adam Lau

Quarterbacks: D

For a blowout game, Joshua Dobbs did enough good things to warrant future optimism. But his three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble — would have made a Tennessee upset all but impossible even if the Vols had done everything else right on Saturday night. The Vols have a slim margin for error, especially as heavy road underdogs. Dobbs has to cut out the mistakes next week against Auburn.

Running backs: D

Rajion Neal (eight carries, 8 yards) had a day he wishes he could forget. Sometimes a running back’s day is reliant on the blocks he gets — or doesn’t get. But Neal’s day paled in comparison to Marlin Lane (six carries, 37 yards), so it’s difficult to find the reason for his struggles. The Vols used plenty of two-back sets, and also used running backs split out wide as part of five-receiver sets. But Neal has been a workhorse in the past, so the additional route-running shouldn’t have affected his production.

Wide receivers/tight ends: C

Alton “Pig” Howard was the only consistent target for Dobbs, although his numbers (11 catches, 89 yards) were padded by some short shovel passes. Josh Smith dropped a potential touchdown pass in the first half.

Offensive line: D

Tennessee entered Saturday as the least-penalized team in the SEC, so the six false starts have to be especially confounding for coach Butch Jones. The crowd was loud, but no louder than at Oregon or Florida. Did the transition to a new quarterback have anything to do with it? Jones said there was some concern about the “new cadence,” but most of the problems were due to “lack of discipline.”

Defensive line: D

The Vols have struggled to put pressure on the quarterback while also hemming him in. That was the case again Saturday. Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk picked up 114 yards on 13 runs. He was never sacked, although he faced occasional pressure. The Vols’ run defense continues to be worrisome, especially with a game against Auburn coming next week.

Linebackers: C

The Vols used a nickel set exclusively on Saturday, so a third linebacker was only needed when UT used three down linemen in pass-rush situations. A.J. Johnson and Dontavis Sapp combined for 20 tackles.

Secondary: D

Whether it was his exclusively his fault or not, nickelback JaRon Toney seemed to get burned on two deep passes. At safety, Byron Moore, LaDarrell McNeil and Brian Randolph all seem to be facing injuries of varying severity, and it may have affected their play.

Special teams: B

Video from YouTube

The Vols had a nice punt return by Devrin Young negated by penalty and didn’t gain much traction in the return game. Michael Palardy and the Vols’ coverage teams bounced back with a respectable performance. Palardy also nailed a 51-yard field goal in the first half.

Coaching: C

If coaches get credit for penalty-free teams (and they do), they should also shoulder some of the blame for penalty-ridden performances. Jones acknowledged as much after the game.

Overall: D

The loss to No. 1 Alabama could be easily brushed aside because the result was predictable. But the loss to Missouri should sting more. Anyone banking on a Tennessee win wasn’t giving Missouri enough credit. But the Vols’ failure to deliver a competitive game raises troubling questions about the final three games of the season — especially next week against Auburn.

More game stories

In first start, Josh Dobbs has miscues but shows promise

Michael Palardy punts, kicks through pain

UT's defense at a loss after giving up 339 rushing yards to Missouri

John Adams: Missouri looks like Alabama to Vols

Vols get low marks in Missouri game report card

How they scored: Tennessee vs. Missouri

Missouri too much for Vols, 31-3

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Comments » 18

Plasticman85 writes:

Not sure coaching deserves a "C". Maybe a D- at best. Team looked completely unprepared and unfocused from the start. Our "supposedly" great O-line has been a huge disappointment most of the season and our D line continues to get dominated by most teams. We need to recruit speed all over the field but especially at LB and the secondary.

wilk58 writes:

A+ schedule with C talent I am afraid has taken its toll.

Listening to CBJ this week made you think Dobbs should have been starting all along "opening up playbook" , better runner, etc.

Dobbs had bright spots but for the Worley critics Worley did give this team the best chance for wins, however slim a margin that is.

volbald writes:

The coaches should have been playing Dobbs some in every game so he would be used to the ferocity of SEC football. Maybe aerospace engineering IQ doesn't translate quickly into football IQ - but running out of bounds or "sliding down" seem pretty simple concepts. I began to worry that the offensive and defensive squads would stop taking the field on the changes of possession. But not to worry, the Vols did stay on the field for 60 minutes. It's a shame that's what we are reduced to.

brokebackvol writes:

SO many incomplete passes. The receivers didn't do much to help this freshman QB. Bowl game looking much less likely now. Sigh.

Orange_Power_T writes:

The grade for QB is about right. It was inevitable that Dobbs was going to make mistakes- its just part of the learning curve.
RB's I would give at least a C. With the poor performance of the OLine they did all they could do.
WR's were okay with the exception of Smith. Can't catch a pass that hits you in the hands and in stride...your'e not D1 caliber. First half passes were high...Dobbs needed to settle down.
Offensive line gets an F- if that's possible. Tiny gets at least 2 offsides penalties EVERY game. You have to be able to count to four. No holes for RB's, and they were being blown backwards EVERY play.
D Line an F. Cant stop anything up the middle, can't pressure and contain the QB. Pitiful.
LB's grade about right.
DB's an F. We were out run the whole game and gave way too much cushion.
Coaching gets downgraded to an F. This team looked unprepared, and there were no adjustments at the half. Why didn't someone shadow the QB? He killed us!Rushing! Lack of discipline everywhere.

This was not the team we saw play GA and SC. Are they just looking for the six wins and a bowl? Newsflash, we'll never beat Vandy playing this way.

Volsreign1 writes:

Why do they let Josh Smith play? HE CAN'T CATCH THE FOOTBALL! HE'S A RECEIVER THAT DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO CATCH! HE CAN'T CATCH IT! DON'T THEY SEE THAT? On those rare occasions that the ball somehow sticks to his arms (BECAUSE HE CERTAINLY DIDN'T CATCH IT ON HIS OWN BECAUSE HE CAN'T) he FALLS DOWN BEFORE GETTING A FIRST DOWN! OMG IT'S MAKING ME LOSE MY MIND!
BLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBL

johnlg00 writes:

Huge step back for the Vols in just about every category. The contrast between how other teams run the ball against them and how they run against other teams is shocking. Both lines have been very disappointing in the last two games. The receivers do very little, except sometimes for Howard, to help the QBs. I can give the defensive backfield a partial pass because of the injury issues but the rest of the defense has no such excuse as far as I know. A similar debacle against Auburn will likely start some major erosion of the currently very promising recruiting class.

moorevols55#1417579 writes:

Coaching should be an F. The offensive line wasn't prepared (as has been the case often this year) and the receivers were bad at best. The defense looks every bit as bad as last year and coaching on the defensive side is soft, timid, scared. When you coach scared you play scared and that's what is happening on defense.

asleep#212036 writes:

I'm not real sure why all the panic has ensued.... Butch said on Day one that our biggest problem was lack of speed and athleticism, especially on defense. Oregon and Missouri just put that on display much more than Georgia or SC because of the offense they run. Western Kentucky and South Alabama looked good at times too with the same offensive strategy. It's no secret: our defensive line is slow and without depth, our LB's are not athletic enough to make plays in space, and our secondary is just too young and too banged up to handle a well-executed passing game like Bama, Oregon, Georgia, and Missouri run. Most pundits predicted our record to be 5-7 and we all thought that was silly. However, they are pundits for a reason and as it turns out, 6-6 appears to be our glass ceiling unless we play our defensive game of the year next week.

But nobody should panic. Recruiting classes are fluid but those guys signed with Tennessee because they want, and were promised, immediate playing time. Nothing I've seen so far would change that if I were being recruited. In fact, just the opposite - all starting O- and D-linemen graduate or go pro, the LB corps lacks athleticism and is undermanned, and the secondary needs depth and maybe a new starter (ahem, Justin Coleman). Further, Hurd can't carry the ball every down next year and a nice JUCO receiver would be nice as well as some other options besides North and Howard, the only two we have that consistently block and catch. And Butch has proven he will start and play true freshmen at any position in any game. Like it or not, we can't even field an elite-SEC starting rotation, let alone a 2-deep and until Butch can fill out the talent, we won't be able to break out of 6 to 7 win seasons in this conference. It took mighty Bama nearly a decade to rebound from the Dubose debacle (I know, they lost scholarships but still...) so we shouldn't assume that in one or two years we will be back competing for SEC titles, it's just plain unrealistic. Let's just hope we make a bowl game and go on from there. I think Butch is the right guy at the right time but the job is a lot tougher than what Dooley or Kiffin had, mostly thanks to them....And sadly, we could lose half the 4-stars in this class and still have a better group than Dooley ever signed or than UT got to keep of Kiffin's boys. Wow... Go Vols!!!

SummerfieldVol writes:

Nonproductive is the word that comes to my mind at this moment for the Offensive and Defensive line play plus the Defensive secondary. I have been waiting two years for the offensive line to show up and play up to their billing.( suppose to be the strong suit of the offensive) As far as the QB goes I think he did a good job with the amount of snaps he has taken. My biggest grip would be to speed up his receiver selection. When he looks down field and sees double coverage on a receiver he should know and find the open receiver,don't throw into double coverage.

wazzya69vol writes:

in response to asleep#212036:

I'm not real sure why all the panic has ensued.... Butch said on Day one that our biggest problem was lack of speed and athleticism, especially on defense. Oregon and Missouri just put that on display much more than Georgia or SC because of the offense they run. Western Kentucky and South Alabama looked good at times too with the same offensive strategy. It's no secret: our defensive line is slow and without depth, our LB's are not athletic enough to make plays in space, and our secondary is just too young and too banged up to handle a well-executed passing game like Bama, Oregon, Georgia, and Missouri run. Most pundits predicted our record to be 5-7 and we all thought that was silly. However, they are pundits for a reason and as it turns out, 6-6 appears to be our glass ceiling unless we play our defensive game of the year next week.

But nobody should panic. Recruiting classes are fluid but those guys signed with Tennessee because they want, and were promised, immediate playing time. Nothing I've seen so far would change that if I were being recruited. In fact, just the opposite - all starting O- and D-linemen graduate or go pro, the LB corps lacks athleticism and is undermanned, and the secondary needs depth and maybe a new starter (ahem, Justin Coleman). Further, Hurd can't carry the ball every down next year and a nice JUCO receiver would be nice as well as some other options besides North and Howard, the only two we have that consistently block and catch. And Butch has proven he will start and play true freshmen at any position in any game. Like it or not, we can't even field an elite-SEC starting rotation, let alone a 2-deep and until Butch can fill out the talent, we won't be able to break out of 6 to 7 win seasons in this conference. It took mighty Bama nearly a decade to rebound from the Dubose debacle (I know, they lost scholarships but still...) so we shouldn't assume that in one or two years we will be back competing for SEC titles, it's just plain unrealistic. Let's just hope we make a bowl game and go on from there. I think Butch is the right guy at the right time but the job is a lot tougher than what Dooley or Kiffin had, mostly thanks to them....And sadly, we could lose half the 4-stars in this class and still have a better group than Dooley ever signed or than UT got to keep of Kiffin's boys. Wow... Go Vols!!!

Very upset with loss and the way they loss. This game was definitely a step backwards, even the penalties are coming back same as previous years. Just don't get!!! But what I wanted to address your outlook concerning recruits. If we get blown out by Auburn (which hopefully we won't, we'll be there), could this affect these recruits' commitments; they are verbal. I sure hope not, but seems like it could. GBO and CBJ

WaitUntilNextYear writes:

I was there the crowd was a joke for noise, don't use that for an excuse! This team was totally un-prepared for a team hungry to win the SEC East. For our athletic director, screw you, no band, no pep band nothing. South Carolina donors sit on our 50 yard line in D row 1-8. Missouri is a joke for the UT fans. Dark, seats so far away you can't even see the players numbers, Jumbontron looks like a 42" TV. Our fans and big donors stuck in no man's land with the Missouri State Troopers harassing the Big Orange.
I am sure the suit trash had their steaks and octopus starter after getting off their corporate jet while the real fans drove to Columbia from Tennessee and all over the midwest. Missouri fans were cordial and very nice, we are now Kentucky in SEC football. This program has fallen too far after executing Coach Fulmer and having Hamilton and Hart as athletic directors. Butch looked lost in the 4th quarter.
Pathetic effort probably leading to a butt whipping by Auburn on homecoming, ugly!
This team looked like they quit.
Gary Pinkel could have embarrassed Butch, he didn't.

no1djkb#278630 writes:

If you guys can remember, Alabama was six and six before they started their run. Now I am not saying Tennessee will do that, Alabama has better in state players but you have to get rid of the bad before it can become good. I believe in this coach. He is a lot better than the other coaches we have had.

no1djkb#278630 writes:

Also if you want to throw this coach under the bus after the first year and working with players who came from a coach who basically taught them how to lose, than you need to post somewhere else. The ones who are being negative do not know a thing about football.

Goodgriefcharliebrown writes:

Best game since Alabama and Oregon. Love reading the "tough schedule" remarks. Most of these teams were weak when the schedule was made. Really enjoy how wins over Ohio Valley and Sunbelt schools make Tennessee O-line best in SEC. Heh, heh!

underthehill writes:

in response to no1djkb#278630:

Also if you want to throw this coach under the bus after the first year and working with players who came from a coach who basically taught them how to lose, than you need to post somewhere else. The ones who are being negative do not know a thing about football.

Stating facts and facing reality does not mean throwing the coach under the bus..to the contrary..it is recognizing UT has to upgrade its speed and talent..the ones being negative obviously know more football than ones who don't see the negatives from the last 2 outings..against bama ..it was understandable..but after the efforts against Ga and S Car..expectations were reasonable that we would see a better game against Mo..I expect the Vols to play better against Auburn and think that they have a chance to beat them if the lines on both sides will get with it..and no one throws a coach under the bus who has the #2 rated recruiting class for next year..

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to wazzya69vol:

Very upset with loss and the way they loss. This game was definitely a step backwards, even the penalties are coming back same as previous years. Just don't get!!! But what I wanted to address your outlook concerning recruits. If we get blown out by Auburn (which hopefully we won't, we'll be there), could this affect these recruits' commitments; they are verbal. I sure hope not, but seems like it could. GBO and CBJ

No question a blowout loss to Auburn could play into potential recruits' commitments to UT - COULD. However, these kids want to play and a large majority of them are being recruited to positions of need. Butch has shown he will not hesitate to start freshmen any time or anywhere so they know they'll get their fair chance to play early and often. Not to bring it up but worse than losing badly to Top 10 (which I don't believe BTW) Auburn, would be losses to either (or GASP, both) Vandy or Kentucky. That to me would set Butch back further. As I said, most pundits had us at 5-7 or 6-6, and that was pre-sesason, well before Missouri and Auburn turned out to be so strong. We are way ahead of last year despite the last game, if in nothing else but recruiting. It is possible that Butch will sign about the same number of 4- and 5-stars in this one class as Dooley did in three. If we lose half this class it will still be the best class since Fulmer, considering Kiffin's guys all went AWOL. And Auburn is only a 7-point favorite, pretty slim for a "Top 10" team against a 4-5 struggler. I think the issue is that Butch got our hopes up, which is good, and now that reality has set in we are all in despair but fear not, he will turn us around, it's just gonna take time - a lot of time. My guess is that we will not be regularly competitive (with the more frequent win) with our conference elite brothers until the 2015-16 season and won't be favored to beat many of them until a year after that. But considering Tennessee hasn't been the Tennessee we all got used to since 2004, turning around an 8-year slide in three years will be worthy of a long-term deal. The transformation has already begun IMO...Go Butch, Go Vols!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to asleep#212036:

No question a blowout loss to Auburn could play into potential recruits' commitments to UT - COULD. However, these kids want to play and a large majority of them are being recruited to positions of need. Butch has shown he will not hesitate to start freshmen any time or anywhere so they know they'll get their fair chance to play early and often. Not to bring it up but worse than losing badly to Top 10 (which I don't believe BTW) Auburn, would be losses to either (or GASP, both) Vandy or Kentucky. That to me would set Butch back further. As I said, most pundits had us at 5-7 or 6-6, and that was pre-sesason, well before Missouri and Auburn turned out to be so strong. We are way ahead of last year despite the last game, if in nothing else but recruiting. It is possible that Butch will sign about the same number of 4- and 5-stars in this one class as Dooley did in three. If we lose half this class it will still be the best class since Fulmer, considering Kiffin's guys all went AWOL. And Auburn is only a 7-point favorite, pretty slim for a "Top 10" team against a 4-5 struggler. I think the issue is that Butch got our hopes up, which is good, and now that reality has set in we are all in despair but fear not, he will turn us around, it's just gonna take time - a lot of time. My guess is that we will not be regularly competitive (with the more frequent win) with our conference elite brothers until the 2015-16 season and won't be favored to beat many of them until a year after that. But considering Tennessee hasn't been the Tennessee we all got used to since 2004, turning around an 8-year slide in three years will be worthy of a long-term deal. The transformation has already begun IMO...Go Butch, Go Vols!!!

Both of your posts describe the mature, long-term view that all Vol fans should have right now. I think what has some people a bit put out these days is that the Vols just haven't reproduced the effort and concentration on the road that they have at home. No doubt Bama and Oregon are great teams that may well meet for the national championship, but after the good performances the Vols put up against Georgia and SC, one might have hoped for a little better showing against Mizzou.

I have said myself that improvement seldom manifests itself in a smooth, unbroken upward curve and that there will usually be backward steps for every step or step-and-a-half forward. Still, it is disheartening that there seem to have been few strategic adjustments over the course of the season. As you say, the team's basic flaws are numerous and serious, and I agree that most of the recruits will likely hold firm. That said, the Vols definitely need to snap out of it against Auburn, or just a bit of the bloom might start to fade from Jones' rose. Not a good attitude for a fan who is in it for the long haul, but hardly unexpected in today's world of instant gratification.

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