IT's Take: Auburn

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BLEVINS

Riley Blevins' thoughts

It was more of a track meet than a football game.

And Auburn ran circles around Tennessee –on offense and special teams.

The Tigers put together an astonishing rushing performance, logging 444 yards on the ground with quarterback Nick Marshall contributing 221.

Gains of 5-yards must have felt like 15-yard losses for the Tennessee defense.

There's not much else to say. Never before has picking up big chunks of yards look so easy.

The energy of two-forced turnovers was washed away with the Tigers' relentless rushing attack.

But it's almost hard to decide which was worse: the tackling-allergic defense or the dizzy special teams.

Both were horrid, regardless.

Thirty seconds after Jacques Smith raced into the end zone, Auburn tallied a 42-yardkickoff return, which ended in a score two plays later. And that was the most mild of the special team woes.

Auburn opened the second half with a 90-yard kick off return for a touchdown, sending handfuls of fans to the exits.

The Tigers also scored on a 85-yard punt return, which was Auburn's first punt return since 2008 and the third longest in school history.

On most afternoon's, Tennessee's rushing attack would have been the talk of the town. After all, the Vols totaled 226 yards and Rajion Neal averaged 6.2 yards per carry. But the stats are forgotten amongst floods of Auburn touchdowns.

Freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs continues to prove he is a more serviceable option than Justin Worley, as he was 16-of-25 for 128 yards and added 68 yards on the ground. Dobbs still has plenty to improve on, though, telegraphing an interception in the third quarter and missing on several deep balls.

GRADES

Defense — F

Offense — C

Special teams — F

PARKER

Danny Parker's thoughts

Falling in embarrassing fashion to No. 7 Auburn by 32 on Saturday didn't suddenly bring to light how far how far the Vols must come defensively and at team speed to get back to being a power. That knowledge came in the form of a set of encyclopedias in losses to Alabama and Oregon.

Rather this one simply shows that several of the players about to enroll in January or sign in February will play early and often, especially on special teams. Expect a complete overhaul in all phases for 2014. All Auburn did was put a strobe light on all of the shortcomings.

The Tigers running it 53 times was no surprise. Running for 138 yards over their league-leading average was somewhat eye-opening. But, again, this one was a matchup nightmare as this Tennessee team simply has no answer for anything beyond an average ground attack.

The Tennessee passing game showed signs in but wasn't anything to write home about. However, on the ground, the performance impressed, including the finest carry of Rajion Neal's career that resulted in a 17-yard score.

Michael Palardy kept the Orange & White in the game both as a tackler and with his left foot as early drives stalled around the Auburn 25. The coverage units were absolutely brutal and made a weak chance at an upset impossible.

GRADES

Defense — F

Offense — C-

Special teams — F

MOORE

Randy Moore's thoughts

I thought Tennessee's run defense couldn't play any worse than it did in allowing 339 rushing yards last Saturday at Missouri. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Auburn ran through the Vol defense as if it weren't there Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The Tigers averaged 10 yards per carry through the first three quarters and finished at 8.4 ypc on their way to a 55-23 blowout of the Vols.

Tennessee's defense made one play all day, an 18-yard pick six by end Jacques Smith that briefly closed the gap to 27-20 just before halftime. Otherwise, Auburn probably got more resistance from the autumn breeze than it did from the Vols.

Tennessee's coverage units couldn't tackle the Tigers, either. Chris Davis returned a punt 85 yards for an Auburn touchdown and Corey Grant returned the second-half kickoff 90 yards for another Tiger TD. Punter/kicker Michael Palardy saved two more touchdown returns. Special teams would've been a complete disaster except that Palardy nailed field goals 39, 42 and 40 yard without a miss.

Tennessee's offense actually wasn't half bad. The Vols averaged 5.3 per carry en route to 226 rushing yards. Josh Dobbs completed 16 of 25 passes for128 yards in his second start with one interception. If the defense and coverage units had shown up, Tennessee might have given Auburn a little bit of a game.

GRADES

Defense — F

Offense — C

Special teams — F

WOODWARD
Auburn came to Neyland stadium and ran right around Tennessee's defense, not much you could do but watch. The Vols will have their hands full with Vanderbilt in two weeks, making a bowl for this team is very important.

Offensively the Vols are just not in a rhythm, they show signs at times, but a penalty here and a negative play here kill drives. The running backs ran well today and gained plenty of yards. The receivers need to get more open for Dobbs. Speaking of Dobbs he did a good job for his second start, the pick he threw was into double coverage. The offensive line is still playing soft, they aren't getting any push up front and the false start penalties is killing them.

Defensively my six year old could make the edge against this team. A.J. Johnson keeps getting sucked up in the flow and doesn't stay at home. Bad angle after bad angle is killing them. Give Auburn credit with their speed, but they were zero threat throwing the ball and Tennessee couldn't do anything. Tennessee made Nick Marshall look like a Heisman candidate.

Tennessee was awful today on special teams, this is the worse I have seen them in a long time. Palardy was still good on his field goals, but everyone else was horrible. Vols need to regroup and get ready for Vandy.

GRADES

Defense — F

Offense — C

Special teams — F


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