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Tennessee football: Rapid reactions from Vols’ 63-38 loss to South Carolina

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Spencer Rattler looked invincible against the Tennessee football secondary.

Defensive backs for Tennessee football should be ashamed of themselves. Spencer Rattler finally looked like the guy everybody expected him to be when he first transferred at the beginning of the year, and while he played amazing, there was no excuse for the secondary to look that bad.

Rattler completed 30-of-37 passes for 438 yards and six touchdowns. He picked apart the Vols at ease, and he even scrambled for a first down. UT had no answer for him all night, and every concern and issue surrounding this unit finally came to fruition in the most horrendous way.

There was too much soft zone coverage by Tennessee football’s secondary.

In spite of the defensive issues all year, defensive coordinator Tim Banks hasn’t deserved too much blame. That changed in this game. Marcus Satterfield was leaps and bounds ahead of him all night.

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The Vols played far too much soft zone coverage in the secondary, and South Carolina just torched them underneath. On one drive, they converted the exact same play over the middle twice, including on a 3rd and 20.

Hendon Hooker had some accuracy issues…and then got hurt.

The big story here is Hendon Hooker getting hurt. He slipped, fumbled and suffered a leg injury on an option in the fourth quarter, which spotted South Carolina that 56-21 lead. That’s a huge concern going forward.

Before that, though, Hooker’s play was a mixed bag. He completed 25-of-42 passes for 247 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and he had five carries for 25 yards.

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However, Hooker three multiple passes behind Jalin Hyatt, threw one behind Jacob Warren on a key third down and had a touchdown that was tipped and caught by Bru McCoy. Those accuracy issues were impossible to ignore, but the real story is his injury.

Joe Milton III still has accuracy issues

He’s got that cannon for an arm, but when Joe Milton III came into the game, he still showed the issues that were on display when he was Tennessee football’s starter last year. Milton drove the Vols down to the red zone.

Immediately, though, he overthrew the easiest touchdown pass in the world to Cedric Tillman. The coaches went all in on running the ball after that, and they couldn’t convert a first down in the process.

On the next drive, he did throw a deep pass to Squirrel White and connected with Tillman on a fade for a late score, but it didn’t matter. Those issues still persist a year later.

Defensive line got manhandled (Only sack a designed blitz by Beasley)

A big part of the Vols’ struggles had to do with the defensive line, particularly the ends. They were horrendous in this game. UT’s only sack was a designed blitz by Aaron Beasley. Tyler Baron and Byron Young were almost silent.

Young did have a tackle for a loss. Baron’s only standout play, though, was a hands to the face penalty that kept South Carolina on the field after what should have been a third down stop. Tennessee football’s defense had no excuse for this failure of a performance.

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