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Tennessee-Arkansas: unit bell curve

At the Top of the Curve

Quarterbacks.  In his first start, redshirt freshman Jonathan Crompton went 16 of 34 for 174 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception against an amped up defense.  His receivers could have helped him more and his o-line could have protected him better, but he played like it was his first start.

In the Big, Fat Middle of the Curve

Running backs. If you're like me, you came away with an impression that the Volunteers' run game still isn't clicking.  It may not be a well-oiled machine, but the backs averaged just under five yards per carry.  Montario Hardesty led the way with 12 carries for 52 yards, and LaMarcus Coker looked almost as good as new carrying the ball nine times for 51 yards. Arian Foster served a half game suspension and only ran once for one yard in the second half.  The Vols got behind early, and with time at a premium, had to mostly abandon the running game.

Receivers. Robert Meachem had four catches for 65 yards, and Arkansas native Bret Smith had four for 62 yards.  Jayson Swain added three receptions for 27 yards.  As a unit, they were unable to get off press coverage, unable to get open, and unable to catch passes much of the night.  Is the limited receiver rotation that paid such huge dividends early in the season taking it's toll?

Offensive line. The o-line allowed four sacks.  The rushing game was not as bad as it felt.  Eric Young had a false start.

Linebackers. Marvin Mitchell had nine tackles, one and a half for a loss. Jerod Mayo added six, two and a half for a loss.  The unit, and the rest of the defense for that matter, struggled with Darren McFadden all night.

Secondary.  Jonathan Hefney had nine tackles and one fumble recovery, but the unit could not find the balance of helping out with the run and shutting down the pass.  Jonathan Wade was outmatched by Arkansas' Marcus Monk, who caught eight passes for 137 yards.  Demetrice Morley did have one pass break up.

Coaching. The defense could not stop McFadden no matter where he lined up.  When coach Chavis called a time out to adjust to McFadden lining up at QB and rushing up the middle for huge chunks of yardage, the defense was suckered by McFadden's touchdown pass to Monk.  The offense couldn't find any rhythm, and even though the running game was improved, it wasn't overly effective.

Special teams.  Britton Colquitt got a lot of work, but wasn't himself, averaging only 39.1 yards on eight punts.  Kick returner(s) mishandled kickoffs at least twice.  Hefney had two punt returns for minus one yard.

At the Bottom of the Curve

Defensive line. Turk McBride had seven solo tackles, one for a loss of six yards.  Demonte Bolden forced Darren McFadden's only mistake of the evening, a fumble at the two yard line. Still, the Hogs exposed the soft spot in the middle of UT's defensive line all night and rolled up 259 yards on the ground.  There were no sacks and only one quarterback hurry.