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Final Grades: Tennessee Volunteers vs Vanderbilt Commodores

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A blowout loss to Vandy puts a major damper on the season

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Has Derek Mason found the formula for success against Tennessee?
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

We have officially entered “Bizzaro World”.

The Tennessee Volunteers have now lost to the Vanderbilt Commodores for three straight seasons. It’s the first time that feat has been accomplished since 1926.

The Vols have lost five of their last seven against their in-state rival.

This is not good. This is not encouraging. Especially after the beatdown that Tennessee suffered through on Saturday.

It was a devastating finish to a season that held a lot of hope just a little over two weeks ago.

Offense

What is there to say? This was easily the worst offensive performance of the season for the Vols.

Aside from Ty Chandler’s 75-yard touchdown run, the Vols generated just 167 total yards of offense and scored 13 points. They moved the chains just 12 times, were (-1) in turnover margin, and were an abysmal 3/11 on third down.

There was no sense of urgency. There was no physicality. There was no cohesiveness to be found anywhere on the field.

Chandler touched the ball just eight times throughout the entire game, but here is the REAL kicker: punter Joe Doyle punted the ball eight times.

Tennessee’s best offensive player touched the ball as many times as the punter.

And don’t forget that the Vols had the ball for just under 17 minutes.

That alone requires a failing grade for the night.

Final Grade: 0.5 (F)

Defense

The defense was able to get a three-and-out on the first series of the game, but that was the only highlight of the night.

Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur completed his first 15 passes until one of the running backs dropped any easy screen. He finished the night 31/35 for 367 yards and three touchdowns. The completion percentage was a new school-record.

The defense did record three sacks, but pressure was pretty scarce for most of the night. The linebackers struggled with any and all of Vandy’s speed. They couldn’t get from sideline to sideline to save their lives.

The scary thought is that things could’ve been worse. Much worse. If Ke’Shawn Vaughn didn’t get knocked out of the game early, there is no reason to think Vandy couldn’t have hung 50 on Tennessee.

They allowed Vandy to go 5/12 on third down and 4/5 in the red zone. The defense couldn’t get the Commodores off the field either, which is evidenced by the absurd time of possession margin.

The defense was manhandled and looked despondent throughout the night and their final grade reflects their poor performance.

Final Grade: 1.0 (D)

Special Teams

The special teams didn’t have much room to do their thing outside of the eight punts from Doyle.

Brent Cimaglia hit his only extra point attempt and the coverage units did their thing.

Final Grade: 3.5 (B+)

Coaching

This was easily the worst coaching of the season. Tennessee didn’t look motivated, they didn’t seem to have any type of constructive game plan, and they sure as hell didn’t make any in-game adjustments.

Jeremy Pruitt has a lot to figure out this offseason. Fortunately, he won’t have to make a decision at offensive coordinator thanks to Tyson Helton jumping ship.

Regardless, this will be an offseason of reflection. Pruitt and co will have plenty of time to figure things out.

Final Grade: 0.0 (F)

Overall Grade: 1.25 (D)

Yea, that sucked.

You never want to lose to Vanderbilt, you definitely don’t want to get dominated as Tennessee has over the last three years. Saturday’s game was a perfect example of two programs that are currently heading in two opposite directions.

That doesn’t mean all hope is lost for the Vols, but it does mean they need to get things figured out and get them figured out quick.

Overall Grade For The 2018 Season: 2.33 (C)

The overall grade is about right. Two big wins over ranked opponents are nothing to scoff at, regardless of where those two teams are now. Tennessee took care of business in the moment and that matters.

But at the same time, the season ended with a thud - and not a good one. Issues at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, a lack of playmakers, questionable coaching, and injuries set the tone for the season early on and things never really let up.

There were some bright spots this year, but the same could be said for Butch Jones’ first year at the helm. As always, time will be the deciding factor as to what this coaching staff can do.