It’s pretty clear the defense is the biggest culprit, but lots of people were at fault for Tennessee football losing 63-38 to the South Carolina Gamecocks on the road Saturday. Before we dive in, let’s first say that this is all about on-field antics, so rumors regarding players being suspended are irrelevant here. This is our blame pie for the Vols’ second loss.
Secondary: 50 percent
Obviously the secondary was the worst part of the game. Dividing blame up within the secondary, though, cornerbacks get 65 percent of it, and safeties get 35 percent of it. Kamal Hadden, Brandon Turnage and Jaylen McCollough were the biggest culprits. However, they weren’t the only reason for the awful pass defense.
Defensive ends: 40 percent
Part of Tennessee football’s defense is relying on pressure from the line, and Tyler Baron and Byron Young were nonexistent in Saturday’s matchup. That was nearly as big of a deal as the poor secondary player and contributed to Spencer Rattler throwing for over 400 yards and six touchdowns on the night.
Javontez Spraggins: 5 percent
Don’t forget that Javontez Spraggins single-handedly killed one drive because he committed a holding penalty and allowed a sack on back to back plays. That resulted in South Carolina going up two scores in the first half, as it was the one drive the Vols had to punt that half.
Tim Banks: 3 percent
Although the secondary and pass rush were awful, Tim Banks could have done more to adjust. He rarely blitzed and kept the defensive backs playing way too far off receivers. There’s no excuse for South Carolina converting a 3rd and 20 running the exact same play they ran two snaps earlier.
Hendon Hooker: 1 percent
You don’t want to do this just as he suffered a season-ending injury, but Hendon Hooker made a couple of mistakes in this one that proved costly. He made the wrong read on the Vols’ one field goal drive when he threw it to Dylan Sampson, and UT had to punt on another drive when he threw it behind Jacob Warren on a third down pass.
Jacob Warren: 1 percent
The third down pass wasn’t Warren’s fault, but he drew an offensive pass interference penalty two drives later that killed a trip by UT into South Carolina territory. Hooker had just completed a pass to Cedric Tillman to bring up 4th and short, but it was waived off because of that flag.
Hooker deserves credit for mostly playing great in the game before getting hurt, so it was tough to put him on here. However, the real story was the pass defense. That alone allowed South Carolina to score a touchdown on all but one possession, and they almost solely cost Tennessee football this game.