That was absolutely brutal.
Tennessee was obliterated by rival Florida on Saturday night on a national stage. Not only did they look like an FCS team, but there hardly any positives to build on other than the fact that they learned how to take a good, old fashioned ass-kicking.
This week’s grades mirror those of a college freshman who decided to partake in Thirsty Thursday the night before an exam.
Hold onto your butts, Vols fans.
The Vols came into this game with one major concern, the offensive line. If they played well, then Tennessee had a chance to win the game, but if they didn’t play well then there would be little to no chance of a victory in Neyland Stadium.
The offensive line was downright pitiful. Florida was constantly in the backfield all game long and Jarrett Guarantano took hit after hit, eventually giving way to Keller Chryst due to an injury on a late hit by a Gator defender.
The issues up front bled into the overall offensive performance throughout the night. Tennessee committed two turnovers on their first two possessions and Florida made them pay by scoring 14 points off of the miscues.
And it didn’t stop there. Down 23-3, Tyson Helton knew his offense needed a spark. The first-year offensive coordinator called the perfect play as Guarantano found a wide-open Austin Pope streaking down the sideline.
But in the most symbolic expression of the past decade of UT football, Pope lost control of the ball and it went out of the back of the endzone.
Let me show you what a decade of depression looks like.#UFvsTENN pic.twitter.com/rKB6IXYNkt— Allan Bell (@AllanBell247) September 23, 2018
Then the Vols fumbled again on their next possession and finished the first half with four turnovers and faced a 26-3 deficit at halftime. Tennessee didn’t score their first touchdown until late in the third quarter.
The offense averaged just 4.4 yards per play, committed six turnovers, and finished with six penalties for 58 yards.
Final Grade: 0.0 (F)
In all fairness to the defense, they were put in some tough spots throughout the night and didn’t get many breaks from the other side of the ball.
But they also didn’t do anything to help themselves, either.
The pass rush was non-existent. The stat line wouldn’t agree with that because the Vols did record two sacks, but both of those came after the Gators had extended their lead to 33-3.
Alontae Taylor made another play after forcing a Lamical Perine fumble, but that was just about all the defense did all day long.
Florida ran for over 200 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. As a whole, Feleipe Franks and the rest of the Gators averaged about 7.3 yards per play on offense.
Despite being placed in bad situations, the defense needs to figure out how to get out of such situations when called upon. I know this team is young, but they have to start improving at some point.
Allowing 47 points at home is not improvement.
Right now, it’s not enough.
Final Grade: 1.0 (D)
Brent Cimaglia hit both of this field goal attempts and is still perfect on the season with a 4-4 mark.
The rest of the unit played well. The Vols punted decently and kickoff coverage was good. There weren’t any muffed punts this time around, so at least there was improvement on the field in some capacity.
Final Grade: 4.0 (A)
There was so much hope riding on this coaching staff coming into the season, whether it was warranted or not.
The main key for this season was improvement. As long as the team improved from week to week, then everything was going to be just fine.
After four games, it’s safe to say this team has done everything but improve.
Pruitt’s frustrations came to a head against Florida and it was visible to everyone around.
Not the whiteboard ... pic.twitter.com/Mol0WijRDO— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 23, 2018
At this point, it’s going to be a long season and fans are going to have to endure some major growing pains with the players and the coaching staff.
Without growth, however, it’s just pain.
And it’s safe to say there is plenty of that on Rocky Top right now.
Final Grade: 0.0 (F)
Overall Grade: 1.25 (D)
This was one of the worst performances ever witnessed against the Gators. The Vols were better off with Nathan Peterman under center in 2013.
It doesn’t get any better with a road trip to Athens coming up.