We could actually go about 15-deep on this list when it comes to naming specific individuals responsible for Tennessee Football losing 36-7 to the Missouri Tigers on the road this past Saturday. However, it was pretty easy to narrow down those who had the most impact on arguably the Vols’ worst loss of the Josh Heupel era. Here is our UT blame pie for the Mizzou game.
Elijah Herring: 35 percent
Nobody plays harder than Elijah Herring, but his lack of athleticism and inexperience is a terrible combination at middle linebacker, and that showed. Herring was the major reason why Cody Schrader was never accounted for, as he gained over 300 yards from scrimmage. He was constantly out of position and too slow to recover. It’s also why Brady Cook could run for 55 yards.
Run-blockers: 35 percent
Three separate drives in which Tennessee Football was moving the ball were stalled because of holding penalties. The Vols had two more drives in which they couldn’t convert a 3rd and short running the ball. In the end, they had only 83 yards on 23 carries. It was a horrendous day for the run blockers, including the offensive linemen and the tight ends.
Offensive backfield: 15 percent
Joe Milton III and Jaylen Wright had a bad exchange on an option play that killed one drive. Dylan Sampson and Milton lost a fumble on an RPO miscommunication. Then you had the Wright fumble at the end of the first half, which killed the Vols’ momentum, and Milton’s pick-six late. Combining these things, you could just say the backfield as a whole was a major contributor to the loss.
Wesley Walker: 10 percent
While Herring was the main culprit for the Vols getting torched by Mizzou’s zone read offense, Wesley Walker was constantly out of position on the back end, a rarity for him. This allowed them to gain even more yards, and he almost never closed on Cook’s scrambles or Schrader’s catches out of the backfield. A busted coverage that set up Mizzou’s first second-half touchdown only made his play worse.
Play-calling: 5 percent
Josh Heupel is a superb play-caller, but he makes Tennessee Football far too predictable on these short-yardage situations. He’s got to utilize Milton’s legs more and design more keepers. Meanwhile, Tim Banks utilized his vertical attack far too much in this game given the style of play Mizzou likes to run, so in a rare moment, play-calling must be called out.