Tennessee football report card: Vols fail miserably in second half of 50-17 loss – SECcountry.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Tennessee football caved in Saturday at Missouri, and the Tigers’ warp-speed offense raced away with a 50-17 victory.

Missouri scored 33 unanswered points on the Vols, dropping Tennessee to 4-6 overall and 0-6 in the SEC with home games remaining against LSU and Vanderbilt.

The Vols played true freshmen at quarterback and receiver, and four of the offensive linemen in the second half were freshmen after senior center Coleman Thomas suffered an upper body injury that forced him from action.

The result was a second-half meltdown on offense, with turnovers on three consecutive offensive plays that led directly to two Missouri field goals and a Tigers touchdown.

Tennessee’s front seven was knocked off the ball by Missouri’s front, and the secondary missed tackles throughout the night.

It was easily the Vols’ worst performance of the season, and it brings the immediate future of coach Butch Jones into question.

Here are the grades from Saturday’s loss:

Quarterback: C-minus

Freshman Will McBride was 16 of 32 passing for 139 yards with a TD and 2 interceptions in his first start, and he rushed for a team-high 63 yards on 14 carries. McBride was decisive and showed good pocket awareness and scrambling ability. But with a makeshift offensive line and his top three receivers out with injuries, the true freshman’s options were limited.

Running backs: D

John Kelly was bottled up all night, carrying 9 times for only 17 yards and making 6 catches for 13 yards. Kelly also drew a personal foul penalty at the Missouri 3-yard line. Carlin Fils-aime rushed for 31 yards on 3 carries, but also fumbled. Ty Chandler had 8 carries for 33 yards.

Receivers: B

Tight end Ethan Wolf was one of few bright spots, pulling in 3 catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Johnson also had 3 catches for 45 yards, including a 22-yard catch on fourth down.

Offensive line:  D

It was a makeshift unit, and by the end of the game, it was once again a young unit, with four freshmen up front after Thomas left the game with an upper body injury. Offensive tackle Trey Smith gave up 1 of the 5 sacks, and Missouri’s front penetrated Tennessee for 9 tackles for loss.

Defensive line: F

The front four was completely dominated by Missouri, managing just 2 tackles for loss while allowing an eye-popping 433 yards rushing — 8.2 yards per carry. Kendal Vickers and Matthew Butler were whistled for offside penalties. Kyle Phillips, who led the line with 4 stops, left the game with an undisclosed injury.

Linebackers: D

Quart’e Sapp made 10 tackles and Daniel Bituli delivered 7 tackles, but this linebacking corps made absolutely no plays and lost gap control on more than one occasion against Missouri’s hurry-up front.

Secondary: D

Safety Micah Abernathy made 13 tackles — an indication of how poorly the front seven played — but Abernathy also missed key stops at pivotal moments. Sophomore Nigel Warrior was a bright spot with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown. Senior cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and Justin Martin had rough outings, particularly Martin.

Special teams: C

Senior kicker Aaron Medley kicked a career-long 48-yard field goal, and Trevor Daniel averaged 45.1 yards per punt. Chandler had 5 kick returns for 112 yards. Moseley does not often field punts, and the one he did, he returned for 3 yards.

Coaching: D

Tennessee’s football team played inspired football for a half, but it didn’t show any signs of motivation or execution in the second half. As limited as the offense was by youth, the lack of halftime adjustments was disappointing. Defensively, there’s too many experienced players for the Vols to be missing so many tackles and blowing so many assignments.

Overall: D

There was a good half of football — it was 17-17 with 1:15 left in the first half, even with the Vols down to their true freshman quarterback and down three wide receivers and three offensive linemen. The second half was an abomination the entire Tennessee football team — from the staff on down — will want to put behind it.

Fan Sound Off: Another week, another reason for Tennessee fans to call out Butch Jones

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