11.28.2011

Vols Hit Rock Bottom, Lose To Kentucky

I never thought the day would come where I would watch the University of Tennessee lose to Kentucky in football. Sure, it was bound to happen at some point, but it seemed more likely to happen in a dream or video game. As I watched the game unfold on Saturday, the realization that Tennessee football really is in terrible shape came to light. When the final whistle sounded and the scoreboard read Kentucky and Tennessee 7, it felt as if something extremely wrong just happened. This just isn't supposed to happen, it hasn't happened since 1984.

When it was announced that Matt Roark would guide the Kentucky offense, there wasn't a person in the stadium that thought the Wildcats would beat the Vols. Roark, a senior wide receiver, was starting his first game of his collegiate career at quarterback for Kentucky. Sure, he was a high school quarterback, but Roark hasn't taken a snap for Kentucky in his entire college career. Surely, Roark wasn't going to beat the Vols by running the 'Wildcat' offense all game. Think again...

Roark torched the Vols defense for 124 yards on 24 carries. He threw for 15 yards on 4-of-6 passing, but his damage came on the ground. The Kentucky offense ran basically three plays all game and the Vols defense really didn't have a great answer for the first time quarterback.

The real issues for the Vols were on the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray looked terrible, throwing for 215 yards on 15-of-38 passing. His 53-yard touchdown pass to Raijon Neal was his lone bright spot. For the most part, the offense looked dead, uninspired and lacked leadership.

A lot of the blame should fall on the coaches. Derek Dooley and his staff have failed to motivate the Vols players on a number of occasions. This latest loss to Kentucky, brings light to the fact that this is a major issue. We have watched the Vols come out after halftime flat in nearly every game this season. We can talk about lack of leadership from the Vols players, but it has to start with the coaches. A good coaching staff can get the best out of their players. Instead, Dooley just chalks it up to not being a very good team. I'm sorry, but that excuse is unacceptable. You don't need to be a good team to beat this year's Kentucky team, you just need to be awake.

A lot needs to be done in the offseason to improve things for next season. Leaders need to emerge in the Vols locker room fast and they need to take control. A 5-7 season for Vols football cannot happen again. Most definitely a season cannot end with a loss to Kentucky. There is supposed to be some pride when wearing the orange and white, this current reality of embarrassment leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

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