Randy Moore's Thoughts
Even head coach Derek Dooley's input couldn't keep Tennessee's defense from having another long day. In fact, thanks to four overtimes, this was the longest day yet. The Vols gave up a game-tying touchdown pass with 47 seconds left in regulation, then gave up 23 more points in the OT periods as Missouri posted a 51-48 victory.
Tennessee defenders allowed a 77-yard touchdown run, a 23-yard scramble by James Franklin and pass completions of 40, 21, 25 and 24 yards (the last two producing TDs). Ironically, it was a small play – a 35-yard field goal – that proved decisive. Missouri finished with 454 yards of total offense. The Vols limited the Tigers to 64 yards in the first half, meaning 390 of the yards came after intermission.
Tennessee's offense was generally efficient but stalled on two late possessions that could've turned a 28-21 lead into a regulation victory. Tyler Bray completed 37 of 54 passes for 404 yards and four touchdowns. Justin Hunter and tight end Mychal Rivera both posted 100-yard receiving days. Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane ran well behind some excellent blocking, enabling the Vols to average better than four yards per carry. Lane lost a critical fumble at the Mizzou 7-yard line, however.
Tennessee's special-teams play was awful. Missouri posted an 87-yard kickoff return touchdown. Michael Palardy punted exceptionally well but missed a 43-yard field-goal try and booted a kickoff out of bounds. The Vols also were flagged twice for illegal-block in-the-back on punt returns.
Special Teams: F
Chris Price's Thoughts
There is a reason I didn't pick the Vols to win a game like this. They have yet to show me they can. They are winless in SEC play for a reason. In this conference you have to play defense. Tennessee doesn't.
Once again the offense played well, they sputtered in the third quarter, but they played well. Can you remember the days when 28 point in regulation meant a game was in the bag? Me neither.
This was the final straw, if you thought Derek Dooley might hold onto his job prior to this game you better except that a coaching search is underway. I can't ever agree with leaving two timeouts in the bag with 47 seconds remaining and one of the best arms in the country.
On top of that, Dooley's specialty, special teams was terrible. If Palardy isn't missing field goals he is kicking the ball out of bounds on a kick off. These things happen every week and there is no longer and excuse. Did I mention 12 men on the field...
Special Teams: F
Danny Parker's thoughts
Winning isn't just something you roll out of bed and do in the Southeastern Conference. As I've said for years now, one of the factors this program must improve is how to twist the knife before removing it from the vital parts of opponents after Tennessee strikes a decisive blow.
Between the fourth-and-long touchdown and the taking of the air out of the ball at the end of regulation, the Volunteers had no business losing this ballgame to Missouri. That's not a knock on the Tigers because they made the plays they had to. Those are just the two plays that stick out the most to me before seeing the replay.
Offensively, the Orange & White (along with coordinator Jim Chaney's calls) were once again extremely productive. Posting touchdowns in three straight overtimes, 585 yards and 48 points should have equaled a victory. Justin Hunter and Zach Rogers both had crucial drops in the final bonus period, but both played solid games.
Tennessee looked like it was finally starting to turn the corner defensively with another GA (Brandon Staley) providing plentiful communication on playcalling from the sidelines and coordinator Sal Sunseri now in the box. However, lack of consistent pressure on James Franklin hurt the Vols and cornerback Justin Coleman has to get exponentially better at playing the ball in flight.
I cannot give the special teams a poor grade given Tyler Drummer's touchdown on Derek Dooley's gutsy fake field-goal call. However, the kickoff return for six by Jimmie Hunt proved costly.
Special teams: C
Josh Woodward's Thoughts
Looks like Derek Dooley cemented his fate at Tennessee today, the head ball coach let the clock run in regulation with two timeouts left, he then went for it on fourth down in overtime instead of kicking the field goal. Although I did like he fake field goal on the previous overtime possession. The first half Tennessee looked likely to breeze through this game, the defense was on point and the offense could score when they weren't creating penalties.
Offensively you gain 585 total yards it is hard to complain, the first half the Vols looked great, but the second half they seemed to panic some and not get into the same rhythm. Tennessee still needs to slow the ball down on offense and keep the defense off the field. When you have the offensive line Tennessee does you run the ball. It blows my mind they don't run the ball more. It was a great day for Mychal Riveria as he had his best day as a vol catching ten balls for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively the Vols played well in the first half, but the second half was the same song as last week. Missouri continued to pick on Justin Coleman, which allowed for short gain after short gain. Prentiss Waggner made a nice interception, but then let FOXSportsNext's number one receiver Dorial Green Beckham for the 2012 class run free in the endzone for the game tying touchdown at the end of regulation. Tennessee only gets defensive pressure when Daniel McCullers is in the game, they never get any without him.
Special Teams, oh where oh where are you special teams. Rugby punting should be outlawed at Tennessee, when Dave Hart interviews his candidates, this should be a question. It is awful with a capital A. Have tryouts for a kicker, I'm sure someone on campus can kick a football, hell I bet some of you kicked a beer can further than Palardy. Coverage units looked the worst of the season, especially on the designed pooch kick that went for a touchdown.
Special Teams: F