It was easy to come away from Tennessee’s loss at South Carolina on Sunday evening questioning the overall effort and energy of the team.
Two players, however, continue to show they are among the best in the nation at what they do.
Defensive end Derek Barnett recorded three more sacks, continuing his chase for the UT all-time sack record. Barnett passed Leonard Little on Saturday evening to take possession of second place on UT’s all-time sack list at 29 in his career. With four regular-season games (and most likely one postseason game) remaining, he’s now just three short of matching Reggie White’s Tennessee record of 32.
Barnett, who has nine sacks on the season, also became the NCAA’s active leader in career sacks. Amazingly, 26 of his 29 career sacks have come in SEC play.
While Barnett continues to be a bright spot on defense, Evan Berry reminded everybody why he is one of the greatest kickoff returners in the nation and in UT history as well. He tied Willie Gault’s career school record for kickoff returns for touchdowns (4) after taking yet another one back all the way on Saturday evening. Berry also leads the nation in career kickoff return average (34.2 yards) and currently sit at second nationally in kickoff return average (32.9 yards).
Those two alone seemingly kept the Vols in the game on Saturday evening with incredible efforts in their respective roles. The Vols, however, must get more help around them as they enter the final four games of the season with a lot of work to do and a lot of questions surrounding the team.