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Report Card: No. 4 Alabama 34 Tennessee 20

Von Pearson

 Overall

Daniel: It was kind of a strange night in hindsight. The Vols looked completely outclassed in the opening minutes and it felt like a 55-7 type of game was on the way. That start was inexcusable and cost the Vols a real chance to make that a very tight game in the fourth quarter, maybe even a chance to win. But the difference with this team, and we’ve seen it a couple times this year, is that it doesn’t quit in those situations. That’s a very promising trait for a rebuilding team. It’s something I saw from Ole Miss in the first two years of Hugh Freeze’s tenure and then when the talent and experience rise and that attitude meets up with all that, it can lead to great results. Those results aren’t there yet. You can’t let Cooper scorch you like that and a few misses on offense hurt UT’s chances in the second half. The results weren’t what some fans wanted, but in reality, a 14-point loss to Alabama isn’t anything to be ashamed of for the Vols at this point. Joshua Dobbs gives this team some upside and a different element that is scary for opponents going forward. Tennessee still has a ton of work to do to make a bowl, but they at least showed some evidence that they’re going to have a chance to find three more wins on the schedule. Grade: B-

Houston: It’s weird to come out of a 14-point loss to Alabama and feel like the team found an identity, but I think that’s what happened in this game. We know that the defense won’t look that bad again and the offense appears to have taken their largest step to date with the addition of Josh Dobbs. After an abysmal start that left them trailing 27-0, this team fought their way back and never quit; something that would have happened two years ago. Can you imagine a Derek Dooley coached team falling down 27-0 to Alabama with 12:03 left in the 2nd quarter? They might have lost by 100. Instead, this team made some plays, kept playing hard and had a chance to make it a game if not for some second half mistakes. It’s a loss to Alabama, so it isn’t an overally positive, but Tennessee can take a lot of good things away from this game. Grade: B-

Reed: A poor start doomed Tennessee’s chances in this one, but there were some positives. The offense, for once, outplayed the defense. That’s a good sign moving forward because I don’t expect the defense to struggle like they did against Alabama with any of Tennessee’s remaining opponents. The team fought back from a 27-0 deficit to cut the lead to 10. If just one player on either unit doesn’t keep fighting, that game gets really, really ugly. Jones and the team deserve credit for holding things together when it looked like they were on their way to a 62-0 drubbing. Dobbs breathed life into the Vol offense, life that was desperately needed as the Vols head into the homestretch of the season. Other than a horrendous first quarter, the Vols played some of their best football of the year. Grade: B- (F for the first quarter)

Average Grade: B-

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