Quarterback. Ainge in Orange's 32 of 47 for 271 yards and three TDs was the best performance of the game. He both led and ran the offense well, making good calls at the line, and he did not let the broken pinky phase him either physically or mentally. Recovered well from the early adversity of an unimpeded fumble-inducing sack. Thirty-one points should get your team a win.
Running backs. Arian Foster had a great night as well, not only averaging nearly seven yards per carry but also gaining 117 yards on kickoff returns. Yes, looking back on his 47-yard run meant the team had to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown, but he and Ainge were still the stars of the offense. Hardesty ran well, too, averaging three yards on nine carries, and freshman Lennon Creer (RTT#5) made a good play covering up the ball when a blitzing linebacker blew up the handoff.
Offensive line. Ainge doesn't throw as well and Foster doesn't run as well without the help of the offensive line. They appeared strong both blocking the run and protecting the pass. Left tackle Eric Young played very well.
Receivers. This is a tough call to make. On one hand, the receivers played fairly well. Lucas Taylor led the way with six receptions for 109 yards, and Josh Briscoe, Austin Rogers, and Chris Brown all chipped in. On the other hand, it appears that we basically had three possession receivers on the field at once with no vertical threat. Brent Vinson (RTT#3) failed to make a key play late in the game, and either he or Kenny O'Neal (RTT#17) (can't remember which one) broke off a route late in the game when he saw the safety coming. Tennessee needs playmakers at this position, but the challenge is identifying them.
Secondary. Wonder of wonders, the defensive backs -- the biggest question on defense heading into the season -- were the strength of the defense. This is really a best-of-the-worst recognition, but still. Jonathan Hefney had a rough night, partially due to cramping or some minor injury, but Vol fans should be encouraged by freshman Eric Berry's (RTT#1) performance. He both covered and tackled well, something fairly rare on Saturday night in Berkeley if you were wearing a white jersey. Giving up 241 yards receiving is a cause for concern, but the d-backs didn't get much help from the defensive line.
Linebackers. Jerod Mayo and Rico McCoy got a few good knocks in, but this unit spent most of the night misjudging the speed of Cal's skill players and consequently missing too many tackles. Mayo did have 10 tackles (nine solo), but McCoy only had five, and Ryan Karl only had three. And it wasn't like they didn't have the opportunity, as ball carriers were squirting past the first line of defense like they were being launched by a semi-automatic cannon.
Special teams. A mixed bag here. Kickoff returns were decent, with Foster having a fantastic 68-yard kickoff return. Kickoff coverage was another story, though, as Cal had kickoff returns of 29 and 30 yards. Punt coverage may still be a problem, but it is hard to tell how much of DeSean Jackson's 77 yard return was due to his ability to evade tacklers and how much was our inability to realize that tackling is the most efficient manner of stopping a ball carrier's forward progress.
Coaching. Just to be clear, tackling is key, okay? And really, has three yards and a cloud of dust gone up in smoke? Shouldn't Johnny Ball be exhumed considering our current personnel? Foster gained almost seven yards per carry, but on short yardage situations, we attempted passes or trick plays. Punting to Jackson was questionable, but it's unclear whether this was a decision or a failure to execute. Not stretching the field vertically resulted in stalled drives later in the game, and not being able to stretch it vertically may have been the result of not getting the younger, faster receivers into the game earlier. The coaching staff really should consider breaking tradition and getting the fastest players the ball, even if they're younger and it's behind the line of scrimmage. See Percy Harvin last year. Oh, and Jahvid Best this year. Remember him?
Defensive line. Yikes. This almost certainly contributed to all of the other problems on defense. Had they been able to pressure the quarterback, the secondary may have looked downright good and the skill players wouldn't have been launching out of the backfield into the linebackers unhindered. Demonte Bolden did break up a pass, so there's that.
Placement of the curve. This entire curve needs to be squished and slid left of middle. The best wasn't that great, and the worst is downright troubling.And because I did it and it doesn't appear to fit anywhere else, a T.O.P. pie chart! Equal portions for all!