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Vols lose must-win game against Arkansas, questions abound

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Vols lose a game they needed to win on Saturday, and the fan base is left with many questions.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Vols desperately needed a win against Arkansas on Saturday. It was more of "must-not-lose" than a "must-win" for the Vols, and after Evan Berry took the opening kickoff 96-yards for a score, Tennessee couldn't have asked for a better start.

But then it happened. The same issues that reared their head against Oklahoma and Florida happened again this Saturday, and the Vols managed a mere 90 yards of offense in the second half on their way to a 24-20 loss to Arkansas. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs struggled to find receivers, and when he did those receivers failed to make plays. Tennessee abandoned the run game in the second half, carrying the ball nine times for just four yards.

There will be many questions to answer for Butch Jones and his staff after this loss. This wasn't a fourth quarter collapse so much as it was a fourth quarter shot-in-the-foot by Tennessee's offense. The offense couldn't get any traction, and as a result, the defense was on the field too long and gave up chunk plays repeatedly.

The offense went conservative to close out the first half, and it resulted in a Arkansas being able to kick a field goal right before halftime. Then the second half saw the Vols force pass plays and fail to capitalize on a blocked field goal and stuffed fake field goal attempt by their defense. "Missed opportunities" is the key to this game.

The loss drops the Vols to 2-3 with games against Georgia and Alabama looming. Before the season began, fans were wondering if the Vols would compete for the SEC East once again this year. Now they're left wondering if the Vols will make a bowl game.