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Tennessee-Kentucky: unit bell curve

At the top of the curve

Running Backs. LaMarcus Coker accounted for 90 of the Vols' 96 net rushing yards and Montario Hardesty added 27.  Negative yardage by Arian Foster and Erik Ainge (due to three sacks) brought the net total down to 96 yards, which against Kentucky's defense is a poor showing.  Still, Coker's average of 4.1 yards per carry was pretty good, and he was the team's second-leading receiver, contributing another 51 yards in the air attack.

In the big, fat middle of the curve

Secondary. Demetrice Morley broke up a pass and had six tackles, including one for a loss. He also had a key interception negated by a questionable pass interference call. Jonathan Wade broke up two passes and also had six tackles. Antwan Stewart seemed to struggle a bit. This is a mixed bag, as Kentucky piled up 410 yards, but was limited to only 12 points.

Linebackers. Rico McCoy led all defenders with nine total tackles, and he forced one fumble and broke up a pass. Ryan Karl added seven tackles, including one for a loss of two yards, and a QB hurry. Marvin Mitchell added six tackles, including one for a loss and applied the pressure on QB Andre Woodson on Kentucky's last pass attempt into the end zone.

Defensive Line. Turk McBride had eight tackles, one for a loss, two QB hurries, and a key stop on fourth and two in the fourth quarter. Demonte Bolden added three tackles and a sack for a loss of seven yards. Again, a mixed bag here, as the defense gave up 410 total yards but only 12 points.

Receivers. Robert Meachem finished the game with six receptions for 116 yards and one TD and finished the season with 1,265 yards, a single-season school record.  Not bad at a school formerly, and perhaps currently, known as Wide Receiver U. The second-leading receiver for the game was a running back, and Jayson Swain and Bret Smith added only four catches for 34 yards combined.

Quarterback. Erik Ainge's numbers -- 19 of 33 for 240 yards and one TD -- weren't bad, but the SEC's second best passing offense scored a mere 17 points against the worst defense in Division I-A.

Special Teams. Britton Colquitt had two punts for 88 yards, with one inside the 20 and one touchback. James Wilhoit made one field goal and had another one blocked, but that was apparently due more to Kentucky beating Tennessee at the line than it was due to being a low kick. The return game is still practically non-existent, but the coverage game held on to its much-improved status.

Coaching. Giving up 410 yards is not good, but holding Kentucky's vastly improved offense to 12 points is.  Gaining only 336 yards and scoring only 17 points against the nation's worst statistical defense is disappointing. The failure may have been more due to player execution than scheme, but coaches are accountable for preparing players to execute. Still, the scheme and the team worked when it mattered most, and the Vols closed the regular season with a win.

At the bottom of the curve

Offensive Line. This unit had trouble shifting focus throughout the year. When pass-protecting well, it could not run block, and when it blocked for the running game well, it could not pass protect.  Saturday, it was more the latter, as the o-line did a fine job of blocking for LaMarcus Coker but gave up three sacks for a total of minus 25 yards. There were several QB hurries as well.