Tennessee football blame pie: Who’s at fault for Vols’ Georgia St. loss?

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 31: The Tennessee Volunteers warm up before the season opener against the Georgia State Panthers at Neyland Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 31: The Tennessee Volunteers warm up before the season opener against the Georgia State Panthers at Neyland Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images) /

Many people are responsible for Tennessee football losing 38-30 to the Georgia State Panthers. Here is our UT Volunteers blame pie against GSU.

Honestly, it’s hard to exonerate anybody after such a bad loss. Tennessee football has more talent all over the field than Georgia State, but the Vols embarrassed themselves from the start. This game being close was scary on its own, but losing in pretty convincing fashion made it worse.

Make no mistake, 38-30 wasn’t even as close as it looked. The Vols were down 38-23 until the final two seconds of the game. They couldn’t stop Shawn Elliott’s offense, and the offense was absolutely atrocious in the red zone.

But who’s most at fault? There’s plenty of blame to go around, and this may be hard to break down. However, it’s blatantly clear that certain aspects of the Vols were much more problematic than others. So let’s break that down here. This is our blame pie for UT’s horrific loss.

Trenches: 50 percent

  • Defensive line: 30 percent
  • Offensive line: 20 percent

It was predictable that the trenches would be the worst part for Tennessee football in this game. After all, the offensive line was historically bad last year, and the defensive line, despite being the best unit, lost all three starters and then its only returning contributor to a season-ending injury. Georgia State cashed in.

The offensive line’s interior blocking remained an issue, evidenced by the Vols’ inability to convert a 3rd and 1 in the second quarter and a 4th down in the third quarter. And Jarrett Guarantano consistently got hit due to missed blocks on the inside.

However, the defensive line was the worst part. The Georgia State Panthers torched the Vols with Dan Ellington’s dual-threat abilities largely because there was no pressure up front. As a result, linebackers were tasked with having to stop the run and figure out how to contain Shawn Elliott’s offense. It was disastrous and the key reason UT couldn’t stop GSU.

Back seven: 20 percent

The linebackers and secondary, to be fair, were indeed limited because of how bad the defensive line was. But this is still the Georgia State Panthers, and they should have been better. Tennessee football was feeling the loss of Daniel Bituli, as they bit on every single pitch Dan Ellington made Saturday. It was horrible.

Meanwhile, the secondary got beat through the air on key plays, allowing two touchdowns to a quarterback who is mediocre at best in passing. Also, Jeremy Pruitt and Derrick Ansley needed the safeties to help contain Ellington, and they failed miserably. So this was a horrible situation all the way around.

Coaching: 20 percent

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Jeremy Pruitt and his staff may have been hamstrung by the issues up front. But that’s somewhat his fault. He clearly did not have his guys ready or excited to play, and motivating players is a key part of coaching. Also, he and Derrick Ansley could have devised more schemes to contain Dan Ellington, as Shawn Elliott’s play-calling was light-years ahead of theirs.

Add in the fact that Pruitt punted on 4th and 1 in the second quarter and Elliott went for it on 4th down the very next drive, and you see the difference between the two coaches. Then there was Jim Chaney, who clearly had weapons but was horrible with his red-zone play-calling and had plays far too slow developing. They all get blame for what happened.

Running backs: 9 percent

Ty Chandler and Eric Gray ran hard. But they also made key mistakes. Chandler’s fumble on the second play of the game set the tone early. Meanwhile, Gray kept missing blocks in pass protection. Now, part of that is on the coaches for having a freshman back in there, but they still deserve blame for what happened.

Jarrett Guarantano: 1 percent

Overall, Jarrett Guarantano was fine. He threw for two touchdowns and over 300 yards, and he again had no protection. However, he did have a fumble on a sack, and he did throw an interception. Tennessee football gave him no help, so we don’t really put this on him, but there were certain things he could have done better.

Next. Vols 10 worst upset losses in school history. dark

This was clearly a team loss for the Vols. Everybody is accountable for the most part, but the weaknesses after the opener are glaring. All the panic that has set in is valid, and Jeremy Pruitt is already on the hot seat unless he cleans things up fast.