Kevin C. Cox
This one's going to be difficult. How many positives can you find in the third-consecutive 31-point loss to your most hated rival?
What else can be said?
By now, everybody has a firm position on where this program is, where they stand with Derek Dooley and the current coaching staff and what they believe needs to happen to fix what seems irrevocably broken. We'll keep this look-back at the disappointment that was the 44-13 loss to the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide brief. After all, if you feel the way I do about Alabama, the last thing you want to do is continue to rehash how awesome they are.
And how badly we played against them ...
- Darrington Sentimore. The junior defensive end had three tackles and a sack after stating leading up to the game just how much he wanted to beat Nick Saban and his former teammates at Alabama. Simply put, we saw a different player, a more motivated player, the player we thought we recruited. Maybe we can use this as a teaching tool to show Sentimore what kind of disruptive force he can be when he applies himself.
- Marlin Lane. The numbers didn't pop out -- just 15 carries for 55 yards -- but Lane was really solid with Rajion Neal sitting out on the bench. I love the way Lane runs with authority, and he did not fear the Crimson Tide at all. That was encouraging for his future.
- The Early Atmosphere. I didn't go to the football game, but it certainly sounded loud. And even though there was a fair share of crimson there, it sounded like the orange portion of the crowd was fired up and was trying to will their team to a win early. Of course late, Bama had cleared out the stands as usual.
- Michael Palardy. The embattled UT kicker was really good against the Tide for the second consecutive season. Palardy booted several touchbacks, made both his field goals and averaged 48.2 yards per punt on his five attempts. He is easily the team's best punter and hopefully has gotten over the mental yips. We'll need him if we're going to make a bowl game. He hopefully is growing up.
- CPKOR. Cordarrelle Patterson is simply an elite athlete no matter who the Vols play. He was again a difference-maker and had 111 kickoff return yards and averaged 27.8 yards per return. Unfathomable why we don't get him the ball more.
TRENDING DOWN [Where to start...?]
- Quizzical Coaching Decisions. I don't understand in the least throwing downfield -- AGAIN -- on third-and-1, or running A.J. Johnson on fourth and short. I don't understand sitting on the ball at the end of the half. I don't understand playing beat dog late in the fourth quarter, rolling over and showing Bama your neck by kicking the field goal down 44-10. It just all continues to be an atrocity.
- Our Two "Elite" First-Rounders. This may sound harsh: But if Justin Hunter is going to mail it in, maybe he should go pro. After alligator-arming that ball against Mississippi State last week, he drops what could have been a momentum-swinging play at the end of the half. He quits on plays and just simply doesn't look like he's giving 100%. Maybe he isn't 100% yet. I don't know. But he isn't the same receiver. As for Tyler Bray, all his supporters [basically all the Tennessee fans] believed he could be the best quarterback in the SEC. Instead, he probably isn't in the top half. As poor as Hunter's numbers are against SEC competition, Bray's is probably worse.
- Dooley's Inability To Get the Ball In Difference-Makers' Hands. Why did CP not line up more as a running back? Why can't we throw him a bubble screen or something? Where is Alton "Pig" Howard? What happened to getting speed in space? Why do we continue to not throw Mychal Rivera the football? These coaches have got to come up with innovative ways to get the players who can win games the football.
- Third-Down Conversions. Want to lose to Alabama? Go 2-for-13 in third down conversions. That'll do it. The Tide destroy defenses by wearing them down throughout the game. When the offense cannot stay on the field, the second half of games are going to be long and painful. On the other side of the ball, the Vols defense didn't play horribly throughout most of the game, but Bama converted third down after third down and only punted twice.
- Dooley's Popularity. Believe it or not, Rocky Top Talk is probably the most cordial site about this. Fans and boosters want him gone. Whether or not he can survive this will be interesting to see. I don't think he will, personally. I say bring on the next guy.