KNOXVILLE – Four overtimes and 99 total points means a lot of big plays to choose from for this week’s Tennessee film room.
It’s a mix that will show Tennessee’s explosive offense, its struggles on defense and a nice trick play on special teams in overtime. Here’s Nooga.com’s weekly closer look at five pivotal plays from Tennessee’s 51-48 loss to Missouri:
(First quarter, 13:52): Tyler Bray throws to Justin Hunter for a 42-yard gain
UT Formation: Shotgun, RB, 2 TE (1 each side), 2 WR (1 right, 1 left)
Analysis: As usual, Tennessee’s offense comes out swinging. It took less than two minutes for Bray to find Hunter for a huge gain. Missouri made it easy by bringing a cornerback blitz from Hunter’s side. The Vols have given up only four sacks all season, so it’s hard to blame the Tigers for trying something different. Still, a corner blitz from the side of one of the SEC’s top receivers usually isn’t the brightest idea. Bray recognizes it and throws it to Hunter before the safety can shift over to him. The safety misses the tackle, and Hunter is off for a nice gain.
(Second quarter, 10:21): Cordarrelle Patterson throws a 28-yard pass to tight end Mychal Rivera
UT Formation: QB Under center, TE right, FB, WR Cordarrelle Patterson lined up at RB, WR left, TE Mychal Rivera lined up at WR to the right, comes in motion
Analysis: Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney’s play calling doesn’t get enough credit at times. Patterson, who can run, catch and throw, lines up as the tailback. Every time he’s been in that formation this season, it’s been a toss sweep. That is what Missouri is looking for in this situation. To make it ever more convincing, Rivera comes in motion for what looks like it will be a crack block on a linebacker – a common move on a toss sweep. Bray tosses the ball to Patterson and Rivera acts like he’s going to throw a block. He then reverses his path and slips behind the defense that is now chasing Patterson. Patterson’s pass is a little behind Rivera, but he still makes the catch and gets it down to the 5-yard line. Patterson then shows off his versatility the next play by lining up at running back, but this time running it in for a score.
(Third quarter, 14:53): Missouri running back Kendial Lawrence runs for a 77-yard touchdown
UT Formation: Dime (3-2-6)
Analysis: After a decent first half, the Tennessee defense reverted back to its old self in the second. This was a simple halfback trap play for the Tigers. Missouri’s left guard pulls to his right and the two linebackers (A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt) both read the pull and step to their left. They’re in position to make the stop, but Lawrence makes a nice cut to the left to get through the first two levels of the defense. I’ve said this all season – but it happens again here – Tennessee’s secondary takes poor angles and is not fast enough. Safeties Byron Moore and LaDarrell McNeil, along with cornerbacks Eric Gordon and Jaron Toney, all should have a shot to take him down, but none really get close because of poor angles and/or not being fast enough to keep up with Lawrence.
(Fourth quarter, :55): Missouri quarterback James Franklin throws a 25-yard touchdown pass to receiver Dorial Green-Beckham
UT Formation: Prevent (3-1-7)
Analysis: It’s fourth-and-12 and Missouri must convert to stay in the game. The Tigers do more than that. Franklin finds Green-Beckham, who was the No. 1 recruit in the 2012 class, gets wide open on the side of the end zone. How did that happen? It looks like another miscommunication in the secondary. The Vols have seven defensive backs playing a match-up zone coverage on this crucial play. That should be more than enough to cover Missouri’s five wide receivers. Gordon sticks with Green-Beckham as the play begins, but then releases him with the assumption that a safety will pick him up. None do, and Franklin finds the rangy receiver without a defender within five yards of him for the game-tying score.
(Second overtime): Tennessee holder Tyler Drummer runs for a five-yard touchdown on a fake field goal
UT Formation: Field goal
Analysis: Great call by Dooley here. No field goal is a given for kicker Michael Palardy, and the Vols needed a touchdown because the defense can’t be trusted. The Tigers rush eight on the field-goal block (Can you blame them with Palardy’s history of low, blockable kicks?) and drops three into preventative coverage. Only two in coverage have a chance to tackle Drummer, a walk-on junior wide receiver who doesn’t have a catch in his collegiate career. Long snapper J.R. Carr and linebacker Channing Fugate have pivotal blocks to knock those two out and Drummer takes it in for the biggest play of his career. It wasn’t enough to win the game, but it’s always a great story to see players such as Carr and Drummer get a chance to get some recognition.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @Daniel_LewisCBS.