Whenever there’s a loss, you have to look at who is most responsible. Tennessee Football made a lot of mistakes as it fell to the Florida Gators 29-16 Saturday night in The Swamp. Here is a breakdown of who is most at fault for Josh Heupel’s Vols suffering a loss to what should have been a far inferior team.
Wide receivers: 5 percent
Bru McCoy had a great touchdown reception, but he also had a key third down drop over the middle in the second half. Dont’e Thornton also had a drop on a deep pass by Joe Milton III, and he didn’t run hard for another pass. For the most part, the unit played fine, but that ruined three potential scoring drives.
Elijah Herring: 10 percent
He is still young, and perhaps he doesn’t have the lateral quickness, but the injury to Keenan Pili was very clear in this game. Elijah Herring did not take the right angles on run plays, and he often got caught out of position when Graham Mertz, who is not mobile, was able to roll out to make a play. A lot of the defensive woes in the first half are on him.
Edge rushers: 20 percent
Yes, Herring struggled, but a lot of the blame also falls on the Tennessee Football defensive ends. Florida has horrendous tackles, so it was their job to maintain proper containment and also put pressure on Mertz all night. James Pearce Jr. did have two tackles for a loss, but by and large, they didn’t do that, particularly in the first half. That’s why Florida’s offense went off.
Joe Milton III: 30 percent
Although his stat line shows him going 20-of-34 for 287 yards, two touchdowns and one pick, Joe Milton III made far too many mistakes. He still had multiple bad throws, his lack of play-clock awareness forced UT to burn two timeouts on one drive, and he didn’t have great pocket awareness, stepping into the wrong spots on throws. He’s the general of the offense, and he came up short.
Interior offensive line: 35 percent
In the first half, Tennessee Football couldn’t get the running game going, which is key to the offense going and the defense getting the pressure. That’s on the interior of the offensive line. Cooper Mays showed he was missed, as Ollie Lane committed four penalties. Andrej Karic and Javontez Spraggins also both missed blocks on the Milton interception. This play was atrocious all night.