The Day After
Tennessee falls to 0-8 in SEC play with an embarrassing 42-24 loss to Vanderbilt. We review the second straight loss to Vanderbilt with The Day After.
HOT AND NOT
Offensive start – Tennessee's offense was terrific out of the gates. The Vols scored touchdowns on their first two possessions gaining 160 yards on their first 15 snaps. The problem is the offense disappeared after those two drives.
Aaron Medley – Medley finished his career kicking the best of his career. Since returning from illness Medley is 4 of 5 on field goals making 3 of 4 beyond 40 yards including a career best 49 yard kick against Vanderbilt. Medley also had 13 touchbacks in his final 16 kickoffs. Hes only non-touchback against the Commodores was an on-side kick.
The line of scrimmage – The Vols have plenty of injuries but Vanderbilt isn't good in the offensive or defensive trenches and they manhandled Tennessee up front. Vandy rushed for 246 yards. Tennessee only had 55 yards rushing. Vandy had 3 sacks and five total tackles for loss. For the season, the Vols gave up a program high 3,015 yards rushing.
The second half – It's no surprise that Tennessee struggled to finish a game. Vanderbilt outscored Tennessee 21-10. For the year in SEC play, the Vols were outscored 155-37
Bob Shoop's game plan – A year ago, Vanderbilt's terrible offense looked like the late Bill Walsh's system carving Shoop's unit up. Kyle Shurmur threw for 416 yards last year. Saturday he threw for 283 yards and 4 touchdowns. Shurmur on third down was 6 of 8 for 88 yards with 5 first downs and a touchdown. Tennessee's defense seemed to have no answers.
Bituli pass interference on 2nd and 17– Down 21-17, Tennessee finally got Vanderbilt behind the sticks. With some momentum, Tennessee led Vandy off the hook with a pass interference penalty. With the first down Vanderbilt capitalized finishing off the drive with a 20 yard touchdown pass given the 'Dores a two possession lead and ending the game.
Callaway skies for six – Tennessee's offense got out of the gates fast and on their opening possession, the Vols capped it off with a fade pattern for a touchdown to Marquez Callaway who made a fantastic snare.
Vandy kneels for the win – It's a defining moment because it brought closure to a disappointing, miserable and embarrassing season. 2017 will go down as one of the worst if not the worst season in Tennessee history. The only positive was some Vol players and veteran administrator Billy Whitsell not letting Vanderbilt plant their flag at mid-field.
Guarantano and Tre Smith press conference – Both young players were candid in some of the issues of the season and vowed that if everyone didn't want to be on board moving forward then they could move on. Perhaps that is the start to some leadership for 2018, something this team clearly lacked this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
3,015 – Number of rushing yards giving up in 2017 by the Tennessee defense making them the worst run defensive unit in school history. The Vols average giving up 251.3 yards a game.
1,409 – Number of yards gained on the ground this season by the Vols. It was 55 against the Commodores. In the last 8 quarters, the Vols had gained just 93 on the ground.
155-37 – The Vols were out scored by 118 points in the second half in SEC play. 17 of those 37 points came in the fourth quarter at Florida
87 – Total points scored by Vanderbilt the last 2 games. From 1993-2003, Vanderbilt scored just 74 points against the Vols.
The gameball goes to long time administrator Bill Whitsell who made sure the Vols rival didn't plant their flag at midfield after the game. A few Tennessee players were there as well, but it was Whitesell who cleared the field and made sure it didn't happen. It wasn't the first time Whitesell has protected the Vols home turf after a loss.
BIGGEST QUESTION/CONCERN MOVING FORWARD
It's simple. Who's going to be the Vols next head coach. It's seems we will likely know in the next couple of days as Currie works to end his search. Then there will be plenty of questions about the staff and roster moving forward.
But the only question on anyone's mind is who's Tennessee's next football coach.