Riley Blevins' thoughts
Tennessee knew it had no margin for error Saturday night against the Ducks.
Errors showed up in every aspect of the game. The outcome reflected it.
The Ducks soared to a 59-14 victory as “S-E-C, S-E-C” chants reigned down from the Autzen Stadium crowd.
The game featured more blunders than highlights, especially for Vols quarterback Justin Worley.
It was a forgettable night for the junior. Worley was 13-of-25 for 126 yards. It was a pedestrian performance at best.
Time after time, Worley’s eyes darted indecisively around the field. He missed open targets and over threw check-downs.
Questions continue to swirl on whether Worley is the man for the job. He did nothing to prove his case against the Ducks.
Tennessee’s running game was by no means extraordinary, but is was effective. Marlin Lane fronted the attack, bolting for 63 yards on just 13 attempts.
Lane’s vision and allusiveness was put on display. He darted through holes and spun out of tackles. Lane was impressive.
However, Lane’s backfield partner Rajion Neal struggled to find his stride. He tip-toed into holes and stopped his feat at contact.
But the offense was fighting an uphill battle.
Tennessee’s defense almost one-upped its dismal 721-yard performance against Troy last season. Albeit against a much, much stronger opponent, allowing 687 yards is unacceptable per SEC or any other standards.
A.J. Johnson and Vols linebackers moved from sideline-to-sideline well early, but became gassed as Oregon’s high-powered attack wore on. The linebackers failed to gain depth in several passing situations and left safeties out to dry.
On top of it all, Tennessee’s secondary did its best impression of last year’s Sal Sunseri-coached defense. Defensive backs got burnt and Oregon receivers slipped behind coverage more than Marcus Mariota through incompletions. Assignments were blown. Corner backs looked confused.
Worst of all, Tennessee defenders broke down in open field and lunged at Oregon ball carriers with flimsy arm tackles. Four of the Vols’ top five tacklers were members of the secondary. Walk-on JaRon Toney was third on the list with five tackles.
And the Vols' kickoff and punt teams took a page from the defense's book. They didn't stay in their lanes and missed tackles were contagious.
Defense — F
Offense — F
Special teams — D
Randy Moore's thoughts
I've decided to accentuate the positive in the wake of Tennessee's 59-14 loss at Oregon, so I'm giving the Vols an A on offense, an A on defense and an A on special teams ... for the first six minutes. After that, it was Fs across the board.
Actually, Tennessee was quite lucky to be leading 7-0 after that first six minutes. DeAnthony Thomas returned the opening kickoff 80 yards only to have the runback nullified by an illegal block. The Vols forced a punt but Rajion Neal fumbled away the ball on Tennessee's second offensive play. Oregon got pass-happy, however, and wound up missing a field goal. The Vols parlayed a busted coverage by the Ducks into a 51-yard completion that sparked a 75-yard touchdown drive. So, with six minutes gone, the 28-point underdog Vols held a 7-0 lead.
And that concludes the positive aspects of this recap ...
Oregon had a touchdown pass nullified by a pick-play call and settled for a field goal, then scored touchdowns on eight consecutive possessions to move ahead 59-7. I realize the Ducks have great speed and the Vols don't ... but how do you surrender eight consecutive touchdown drives?
Justin Worley had a bad day throwing the ball and his receivers had a bad day catching the ball. The defense couldn't stop the pass or the run and the kick coverage units gave up way too many return yards. Have I missed anything?
Obviously, Oregon is a great team. Obviously, Tennessee is a mediocre team. My take is, the less said about this debacle the better.
Defense — F
Offense — F
Special teams — F
Danny Parker's thoughts
The distance from Eugene to Knoxville is about as wide of a gap as the one that exists presently between Oregon and Tennessee in terms of depth, speed and knowledge of scheme.
The Ducks are the No. 2 team in the country for a reason and barring a true upset should play for the BCS National Championship. They're a prime example of what a well-oiled machine looks like when you recruit at a high level, engineer your athletes with cutting edge technology and keep the same philosophy on both sides of the ball year after year after year.
The play of the Tennessee secondary in the first quarter was most impressive. However, complete busts and simply not having the skill to guard Oregon pass-catchers showed up and in a major way. De'Anthony Thomas is the best combination of speed and patience I've ever seen in person; he's electric. Tennessee must get itself a player down the stretch as it closes out its 2014 recruiting class that has that type offensive explosion.
A Tennessee offense that prides itself on opening holes and steamrolling the competition better rethink itself. Don't get me wrong, netting 4.7 yards per carry should be enough to win you football games, but if you're going to consider yourself one of the best O-lines in America, you better take the will from your opponent more often.
The Vol passing game needs to go back to the drawing board. The read-option plays are a waste of time if Justin Worley is your quarterback because defenses know he's not going to keep it, get to the edge and scare defenders. It may not hurt to get Nathan Peterman reps with the first-team offense a bit more now. Worley wasn't horrific against the Ducks but what you see is what you get. He's not going to make game-changing plays to get the Vols a win over any of their top five foes.
The only thing giving Tennessee a passing grade on special teams was Michael Palardy netting 43.6 yards with two punts downed inside the 20. Coverage units struggled getting Ducks to the ground big-time. It was yet another area where the speed gap was apparent.
Defense — D
Offense — D
Special teams — C
Josh Woodward's thoughts
Well, I predicted Tennessee to lose this game, but I didn't expect it
to be this lopsided. Oregon is as complete a football team as I have seen. Their offense is unstoppable at times with the dual threat quarterback. The lack of talent truly showed on the field today. Tennessee has a long ways to go and this staff knows it.
Offense was a struggle for the Vols today, with Oregon stacking the box. Tennessee couldn't get anything going running the ball. When you struggle like Tennessee does to throw down the field then I would expect teams the rest of the year to do this. The Vols have to find a better passing game, these young receivers are going to have to grow up in a hurry.
The quarterback situation is something that I believe Jones and his staff need to discuss. I know that Worley can manage the offense, but with the lack of playmakers Tennessee needs something better than a game manager. When there is no threat of Worley running the zone read then why run that play?
I would have hated to see the score if this was last years defense,
they might have given up a thousand yards. This defense has talent in spots, but Oregon confused them with the hurry up offense, which made this defense look even worse. The lack of depth on the defensive line is obvious, this team needs Jason Carr to step up. He has an opportunity and needs to grab it by the horns. Butch Jones and crew just need to add another recruiting class to this defense to help it, this is all I can see to fix it.
Michael Palardy probably has ice on his left leg on the flight home to Knoxville, the senior punted the ball 9 times today. Palardy has
looked solid in the kicking game. Only flaw I saw on special teams was they kicked the ball to DeAnthony Thomas, he has the talent to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. I like Vincent Dallas on kick returns, because he runs with the ball straight up field.
Defense — F
Offense — F
Special teams — C