Randy Moore's Thoughts
If you like offense, Neyland Stadium was the place to be Saturday. Tennessee and Troy combined for 1,439 yards of total offense and 103 points in the wildest football game this reporter has ever witnessed.
They say "It's not whether you win or lose. It's how you play the game." I beg to differ. It's both. Tennessee posted 718 yards of total offense -- most in program history -- in its 55-48 victory but also gave up 721 total yards -- most in program history.
Tyler Bray, who typically eats teams like Troy for breakfast, did so again, throwing for a school-record 530 yards. Justin Hunter and Vincent Dallas dropped wide-open passes or he would've thrown for around 80 more. Still, the offense took care of business.
The defense hit a new low, however. When you give up seven plays of 30 yards or more against a Sun Belt team that's just pathetic. Tennessee defenders are out of position so often that you wonder if they fall asleep during team meetings or something.
Except for Michael Palardy missing a 39-yard field goal and putting one kickoff out of bounds, the special teams play was fairly decent.
Special Teams: C
Chris Price's Thoughts
Once again, 55 points, How do you put up 55 points and find yourself in a dog fight? I will tell you how. You have one of the worst defenses in the history of football.
I don't know what it is. I can't figure it out, but I don't feel dumb because guys making millions of dollars can't figure it out either. I feel for the kids. I do. And it may be their own fault, but it is just crushing to watch kids like Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson take the podium after a performance like that. Kids you know are putting themselves on the line every week and coming out with these results.
Sure it's a win, but how many people walked out of Neyland Stadium feeling like they got sucker punched in the gut. That is what Derek Dooley looked like in his post-game press conference.
The offense played great. Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson played great. Tyler Bray played great, but it is hard to even acknowledge that, which is sad. But in all reality, you just got out-gained in offensive yardage 721-718. BY TROY. I will end my comments with that stat.
Special Teams: C
Josh Woodward's Thoughts
A win is a win right, well not so fast my friend. That was ugly. I mean you gave up 721 yards of offense to Troy. How do you do that? There are pee wee coaches that have better defensive strategy than Tennessee. Either this defense is way to complicated or Tennessee players have gotten worse since last year. My guess, defense is to complicated. You just have to make it simple for the players sake.
Offensively they where great today, not much to complain about other than a few drops. They broke all kinds of school records and could score at will most of the game. Marlin Lane ran the ball well and they hit Rajion Neal on nice wheel route for the touchdown. For all the hype on Alton Howard he hasn't shown me much other than putting the ball on the deck for the games only turnover.
Defensively this team is bad, I can't put it all on the players, I believe it is the scheme that hurts this team. They are being put in bad situations and unlike the Justin Wilcox defense they can't hide their problems. What baffles me is they seem to be getting worse, no improvement from game to game. Troy has a good offense, but this is the SEC people not supposed to happen in this league.
Special Teams is fun to watch with Patterson deep, you never know when he is going to take one to the house. Parlardy missed just one field goal, since he is punting, kicking off and has field goal duties I will give him a break. His leg is going to be dead by the end of the year. Tennessee handled the pooch kick well today, looks like they worked on this in practice.
Special Teams: C
Danny Parker's Thoughts
We finally got an answer to the 400-pound gorilla in the room — Smokey IX will indeed be replaced by Smokey X next season, starting with the 2013 Orange & White game.
The serious question is who will join Smokey X on the sidelines for Tennessee come April? Will Derek Dooley be the head guy? Will Sal Sunseri be the defensive coordinator? Change must come from somewhere, and it will be interesting to see how high up the ladder director of athletics Dave Hart goes to get the train back on the tracks.
Looking at the Volunteers from an offensive perspective (even though I expect eight new starters next year), things are clicking. They are still missing on some big plays (Vincent Dallas, Justin Hunter TD drops), but they are making up for it as Hunter, Marlin Lane and Cordarrelle Patterson combined for 624 all-purpose yards.
I wrote about the defense being a second-half bunch earlier this week. On Saturday, they allowed 30 of Troy's 48 points the first two quarters. So, they did bow their neck on occasion late to get a minimum number of stops. The problem is that not only does Sunseri's group not play 60 minutes at a consistent, high level, but it also struggles to put together 3-4 plays of production.
Personnel-wise, players are being shuffled around at an eye-popping rate, but I do not disagree with that. Implement the "Barber Shop Policy" whereby if a player can't make the plays, you dust the chair off for the next guy.
Not much to say about the special teams. Hunter didn't look fluid returning punts. Punting and placekicking duties all on Michael Palardy may be a bit much. Matt Darr needs to step up at practice and alleviate some of that pressure.
Special Teams: B-