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Tennessee-LSU: unit bell curve

This will have to be quick, as I've had to deal with blotter issues this morning instead of football, so pardon any errors.

The Top of the Curve

Receivers.  This unit was off to a shaky start, with both Robert Meachem and Bret Smith dropping balls early, but they finished well.  Meachem had five catches for 121 yards, and Jayson Swain added three catches for 26.

Quarterbacks.  The futility of the first three series was probably more attributable to the receivers dropping passes than Ainge's immobility, but it's hard to live with three wasted series in a game when you have the ball for less than 20 minutes.  Crompton went 11 of 24 for 183 yards and two touchdowns against the nation's number one defense in his first meaningful playing time.  Yes, he threw an interception, and two long pass plays to star Robert Meachem stuffed the stats a bit, but still, it was a solid debut for Crompton.

The Middle of the Curve

Secondary.  Jonathan Hefney, Demetrice Morley, and Antwan Stewart each had an interception, and Jonathan Wade forced a fumble.  Those turnovers converted into 17 points.  On the other side of the ledger, though, they allowed JaMarcus Russell to go 24 of 36 for 247 yards and three touchdowns.  Several key third and fourth down conversions really hurt the team, but that could be partially the result of an inability of the defensive line to pressure and contain Russell.

Offensive line.  This unit only allowed two sacks, one on a gimpy Erik Ainge.  They're still not run blocking very well.

Coaching.  Fulmer and Cutcliffe did a good job getting Crompton ready to play, and it's hard to fault them for a tough decision that could have gone either way on whether to start Erik Ainge and how long to stay with him.  They saved their timeouts late in the game until it was too late to use them, and they have yet to solve the running game woes.  Still, Tennessee had a chance to win with one more stop at the end even though all of the stats heavily favored LSU.

Linebackers.  Mayo had 12 total tackles, but no other stats.  Marvin Mitchell added four tackles, and Ryan Karl had two, both of them for a loss.  LSU, however, rushed for 231 yards.  Most of the tackles were made by the secondary.

Defensive line.  Turk McBride had seven total tackles, one for a loss, and one pass break up.  Xavier Mitchell added six tackles and a sack.  Demonte Bolden and Antonio Reynolds each had a tackle for a loss.  While this unit may deserve some of the credit for the three interceptions, they also contributed to LSU's 231 rushing yards.  Several times, they lost containment on JaMarcus Russell, who scrambled for 71 yards, 57 of which were on third downs.

The Bottom of the Curve

Special Teams.  James Wilhoit missed a 46 yard field goal in the fourth quarter.  The punt return unit fell for a fake punt for a first down in the fourth quarter and nearly gave up a touchdown when the ball appeared to graze Demetrice Morley's hand on its way to the end zone.  Marsalous Johnson and Jakouri Williams both mishandled kickoffs near the goal line.  Oh, and Williams gave LSU fifteen yards by interfering with LSU punt returner Craig Davis, although it appeared that he might have been pushed into him.

Running backs.  Well, let's see.  Twelve carries, 49 yards.  A post-game arrest of the sole healthy back.  Not good.