Daniel: I know a lot of you want blood here. I have to look at the big picture, though. The defense was lights out and the special teams were serviceable. The offense was an embarrassment and a lot of frustration is being pointed towards OC Mike Bajakian. But I just don’t see how he can be held fully responsible until he has an SEC-level offensive line to work with. That stops everything on offense. Sure, there were a few play calls I disagreed with and a few game management things I might’ve done differently. That happens almost every week. Butch Jones and his staff have earned the right for some patience with the way they’ve handled this program. It’s time to give them a little bit – for now. Grade: C-
Houston: This was a very strange game from a coaching standpoint. I thought that John Jancek called an excellent game on defense and really had a bead on what Florida was going to try to do offensively all day long. He had well-timed blitzes down the stretch and always had players in positions to make a play. Mike Bajakian was handcuffed by poor offensive line play all afternoon, but didn’t help his offense out by calling long-developing passing plays that ultimately led to sacks and turnovers. That being said, all of the turnovers were on Justin Worley in this game and those turnovers – all in the second half – were the difference in this game. I do think the team came out a little too amped up, especially offensively, which led to costly penalties and mental errors that killed drives, but I think that may be more of a case of being forced to play a bunch of freshman as opposed to coaching errors. Play-calling is never perfect, but I’m not sure what you are supposed to call when your offensive line can’t block and your receivers can’t get open. Grade: C
Reed: I went back and watched the tape before writing my grades and I don’t think Bajakian deserves the hate he’s getting from some Vol fans. Worley has not been accurate all year when throwing the ball down the field (I had him at 2 for 22+ on passes more than 25 yards downfield headed into this game), the Vol offensive line couldn’t block anyone and the ground game never had room to operate. What, exactly, was he supposed to call given all those limitations? With an OL that can’t block and a QB who hasn’t been accurate outside of the dink and dunk game?
An I-formation, as some fans have clamored for, won’t do a thing if the offensive line doesn’t execute better. There were some questionable calls, though. The Vols could have attacked the middle of the field more and, after four straight effective runs in the 4th quarter, went away from the running game on 2nd and 3 which resulted in a sack, and, ultimately, a punt. Jancek called a heckuva game and his defense is certainly ahead of where I thought it’d be at this point. The decision to punt on 4th and 3 on their own 37 was a bit of a head scratcher, too.
Bottom line: This wasn’t an atrociously called game as some contend. It was, however, a game the Vols should have won. And one where I’m sure the staff would tell you they’d do a few things differently. They didn’t cost the Vols the game, but they didn’t do anything to put them at a decided advantage either. Grade: C