The Vols put together an all-around solid team performance against Memphis on Saturday, so attempting to rank the units is difficult, but here's a stab:
No. 1: Coaching. When the entire team plays well, you've got to credit the coaches. After several years of watching the Vols play up and down to its competition, watching them rout a team they were supposed to beat easily was like seeing an old friend. The team's attitude and cohesiveness is just right. Nice balance between controlling the clock with the ground game and keeping the defense honest by hitting long pass plays. The team finished strong and early enough to get some young guys some experience.
No. 2: Quarterbacks. Erik Ainge shook off his one of three for six yards and one interception game against Memphis last year and went 23 of 27 for 324 yards and four touchdowns against the Tigers this year. Jonathan Crompton looked really good in limited action, displaying an excellent fake and a rifle arm.
Nos. 3, 4, and 5: Defensive line, linebackers, and secondary. The defensive line did not get a sack the entire game, but did hold the Tigers to a total of 42 yards rushing, most of which came when the game had already been decided. The linebackers corraled any runner making it through the d-line before they made it to the first down marker. The secondary covered well, and Jonathan Hefney made an excellent interception. As a whole, the entire unit read, played, and tackled well. A solid effort.
No. 6: Receivers. The Robert Meachem - Jayson Swain tandem is in full swing. Meachem caught four balls for 157 yards and one touchdown, and Jayson Swain caught three for 64 yards and two TDs. Bret Smith had a six point block, racing across the field after teammate Robert Meachem caught a deep pass and clearing the way for Meachem to get to the end zone by blocking two defenders at once. Nine different Vols caught passes.
No. 7: Running backs. LaMarcus Coker made the most of his first start, rushing 26 times for 125 yards. As a team, the Vols rushed for 205 yards on 52 carries. Two fumbles, one by Coker and one by Ja'Kouri Williams, are a cause for concern.
No. 8: Offensive line. Protected Ainge well all day. A sackless, 205-yard rushing day is a nice combination.
No. 9: Special teams. James Wilhoit hit field goals from 28 and 49 yards, and six of his eight kickoffs were touchbacks. A big play in the punt or kick return game would be nice.