With a 50-17 loss to the Missouri Tigers (5-5, 2-4 SEC), the Tennessee Volunteers (4-6, 0-6 SEC) have current losing streaks to 13 SEC schools. Too throw salt on the wound, it’s been 354 days since the Vols last won an SEC game.
Here are five takeaways from Tennessee’s loss on Saturday.
1. Will McBride is solid
I’m sure McBride never saw himself touching the field in his true freshman season at the University of Tennessee, but here he is. Although McBride visibly struggled at times against the Tigers, he still has the confidence and grit of a starting quarterback. He was getting blasted by the Missouri defensive line all game and still managed to make plays. This includes a 22-yard touchdown pass and a 43-yard rush off a read-option. By no means am I saying McBride should take over for Jarret Guarantano, but the kid has some talent.
2. Barry Odom has Missouri playing great
At the beginning of the season, people were already questioning Odom’s coaching ability. However, Odom has made changes and transformed the Tigers defense into a solid group, while the offense has remained lethal. Quarterback Drew Lock leads the NCAA in passing touchdowns, including four touchdowns against the Vols. The Missouri offense has tallied over 40 points in eight of its last 10 games this season, as well as six games with over 50 points. Odom looks to get the Tigers to a bowl with games against Vanderbilt and Arkansas to finish out the season.
3. Missouri historically gashes the Vols on the ground
The Missouri Tigers logged more rushing yards in Saturday’s win over Tennessee than they have in a game since joining the SEC in 2012. All three of the Tigers biggest rushing games have come against Butch Jones and the Vols. In 2013, Missouri rushed for 339 yards. In 2016, they rushed for 420 yards, and on Saturday they ran for a team-high 433 yards. The Vols will need to make big changes before facing the dangerous LSU rushing attack next week.
4. Tennessee has to play better now, right?
With news coming in early on Sunday morning that Butch Jones was fired as head coach of the Vols, this team has to play better. With the weight of the coaching debacle lifted off their shoulders and Brady Hoke as interim, Tennessee should play much better against the LSU Tigers. In fact, the Vols will hope to replicate the Tigers success when Ed Orgeron was named as interim head coach for LSU last season. After a 2-2 start from Les Miles, Orgeron led the Tigers to a 6-2 record and a bowl win. Hoke will look to salvage the season and win out to lead the Vols to another bowl game.
5. Injuries making it tough on the Vols
Tennessee officially has more injured players this season than they have in the last five years. Even with Jones gone, the Vols will need to give everything they have to make a bowl game. Tennessee is depleted at more positions than not, most notably the offensive line. McBride was getting absolutely destroyed due to the lack of depth on the line for the Vols on Saturday. Also, the Tennessee defense has been getting fatigued early and doesn’t have the depth to stay close to teams going into the second half. Playing all 60 minutes is hard when 13 players are currently injured.
Edited by Ben McKee
Featured image courtesy of UT Sports