Scott Hall's Take
Tennessee finally saw the slow starts and carelessness with the football catch up with it in the 45-38 double-overtime loss at Texas A&M.
Tennessee wasted 684 total yards of offense mainly due to seven turnovers. It ran up and down the field but couldn't get any real rhythm going until the fourth quarter when the Vols came storming back yet again.
Devaluing the football is an issue that must be corrected. It has been a problem all year long and finally cost the Vols a huge victory. Joshua Dobbs was extremely careless with the ball and that is disappointing considering how intelligent he is both on and off the field.
The running game was stellar and did not miss a beat with junior running back Jalen Hurd out with an apparent injury. Alvin Kamara made play after play in accounting for over 100 yards both on the ground and receiving. John Kelly seeing his first real extended game action made plenty of big plays. Kelly accounted for over 100 total yards and rushed for 6.8 yards per carry. Both running backs did have key fumbles to dampen their overall performances.
The Volunteer defense allowed 21 first-quarter points but 14 of those were due in part to field position after offensive turnovers. Like it has done so many times this season the defense adjusted and played very good football to hold the Vols close in the second and third quarters. In the fourth quarter and overtime the defense did show significant signs of tiring and without the miraculous play of senior cornerback Malik Foreman would have proven to fall just a little short of allowing the offense to tie the game.
With all the injuries and mistakes this football team had working against them, those players showed they simply are tough as nails.They showed the sky is the limit for this team if they can limit the mistakes. They showed that they truly have and trust in the "next man up" mentality. Tennessee fans should be darn proud to pull for a group of men with this kind of toughness.
Special teams: C
Danny Parker's Take
Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara epitomized the "next man up" mantra and cornerback Malik Foreman exemplified the "63 effort."
Kamara filled in for absent starter Jalen Hurd and racked up 161 yards receiving, 127 rushing and scored three touchdowns. With Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams nearing the goal-line for a would-be game-clinching TD, Foreman never quit, punched the ball out of Williams' grasp, through the back of the end zone for a touchback and gave the Orange & White a chance late.
The performance by Kamara and the play by Foreman were not the lone positive impressions of Tennessee in its 45-38 double-overtime loss to the Aggies, but give an idea to the pool of talent and never-say-die mentality this team has. Oh, and it all took place versus the No. 8-ranked team in the nation that's won its most games in a row since 1994 and hosted its second-largest crowd in Kyle Field history (106,248).
Having said all of that, turning the football over seven times is not only unacceptable for a Butch Jones-led team but also nearly unheard of for a team ranked No. 9 in the nation that entered Saturday evening riding 11 straight wins.
One bright spot for a Vols defense that surrendered 592 yards is that they likely won't face a two-heading ground attack like runner Trayveon Williams (217 yards, 1 TD) and quarterback Trevor Knight (110, 3) again this season.
Said coming into this matchup that MIKE linebacker Colton Jumper had to have the game of his life for Tennessee to have a chance, and I think the Chattanooga native did exactly that. The replacement for injured Darrin Kirkland Jr. (ankle) had 10 tackles (7 solo), one interception and 1 tackle for loss.
Tennessee kicker Aaron Medley was perfect, nailing six touchbacks in as many attempts to go with a 34-yard field goal and five extra points. Punter Trevor Daniel banged a couple when the Vols had to have them, including a long of 66 yards. All-America kick returner Evan Berry's fumble was quite costly.
Junior wide receiver Josh Malone had what was probably his worst game in a Tennessee uniform. Fifth-year senior tight end Jason Croom took a wide open pass, bobble it and turned it into an interception. Freshmen wide receiver Tyler Byrd looks like he's going to be something special, catching three passes for 60 yards. Another freshman wideout, Brandon Johnson, had his first collegiate catch.
Special teams: C+