But an already forgettable start hit rock bottom in the final 2:25. No sequence encapsulated Arkansas' woes -- and frustrated Houston Nutt more -- than the series of offensive, defensive and special teams mistakes that contributed to a late Tennessee touchdown.
"That's just a bad sequence to talk about," Nutt said.
The Razorbacks, despite their woes, trailed just 13-3 when Tennessee place-kicker Daniel Lincoln missed a 41-yard field goal attempt late in the first half. Arkansas got the ball back at their 24, but didn't keep it.
McFadden rushed for four yards on first down and stayed in bounds. The Hogs didn't seem in any hurry to run the next play.
But on second down, McFadden overthrew teammate Felix Jones in the flat. It was clearly a pass McFadden wished he had back.
"It was going to be a big play," he said. "Felix was wide open."
Instead, the Razorbacks ended up punting the ball back to Tennessee after just three plays. It was the third time Arkansas' offense went three-plays-and-out in the first half.
"We didn't stay on the field long enough," Nutt said. "We didn't execute properly. Three-and-out is no good."
It didn't help that Jeremy Davis booted one of his shortest punts of the day -- a 32-yarder -- and it was returned by Tennessee's Dennis Rogan to Arkansas' 49 with 1:10 left in the half.
Two plays later, the Vols turned in their biggest pass play of the game when quarterback Erik Ainge found Lucas Taylor running free in Arkansas' secondary for a 29-yard gain.
"It just really hurt us," cornerback Matterral Richardson said. "Any time (another) defense is playing good, you want to come out and try to take our defensive intensity to another level. We made careless mistakes. Not executing when we needed to."
Tennessee eventually moved the ball to Arkansas' 4 before committing back-to-back false start penalties, which brought up a third-and-goal from the Razorbacks' 14. But Ainge flipped a quick screen to receiver Josh Briscoe, who followed a wall of Tennessee blockers into the end zone with 10 seconds left in the half.
It was the second time the Volunteers scored a touchdown on third down in the half. The final one might've been the most costly, helping the Vols open a commanding, 20-3 lead.
"It was big," linebacker Weston Dacus said. "We wanted to stop them. But they had all the momentum. They made a big play."
Final Minutes Of First Half Cap Hogs
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