Tennessee's unusual special teams breakdowns leave Michael Palardy as last line of defense

Kicker/punter saves 2 scores on not-so-special teams afternoon

Auburn cornerback Chris Davis (11) scores a touchdown on a punt return during the first half against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov in Knoxville. Tenn. 9, 2013.     (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2013

Auburn cornerback Chris Davis (11) scores a touchdown on a punt return during the first half against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov in Knoxville. Tenn. 9, 2013. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

An almost unthinkably bad day for Tennessee's special teams very easily could have been worse if punter/kicker Michael Palardy hadn't been willing to hurl his body toward Auburn's returner speeding down the sidelines.

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Comments » 2

billwall writes:

I was screaming just before the half for them to kick the ball out of bounds so that AU could start at its 35 yard line. We had just been penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration. We needed to give our defense a chance. Unfortunately, we did not touch them for the next two plays and the game was decidedly over at that point. The second half kickoff nailed the coffin and the Vol's spirit vanished after that.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to billwall:

I was screaming just before the half for them to kick the ball out of bounds so that AU could start at its 35 yard line. We had just been penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration. We needed to give our defense a chance. Unfortunately, we did not touch them for the next two plays and the game was decidedly over at that point. The second half kickoff nailed the coffin and the Vol's spirit vanished after that.

Can't really argue with any of this. As it said in the article, the Vols' coverage units have mostly done a great job this year. I'm sure everybody is stunned at the breakdowns yesterday.

Somebody on another thread asked why the Vols are the "only" team without a dedicated special-teams coach. The fact is that the NCAA eliminated dedicated special-teams coaches a number of years ago, and accompanying limitations on the size of squads and the amount of practice time means that NO team can put as much emphasis on special teams as they might like. So it actually comes down to the talent you have to put on those squads. I have always said that special teams are one weapon almost any team can use better, especially in rebuilding situations, because there are fewer ball skills required, yet special teams have as much or more influence on field position and morale than offense and defense.

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