A young Tennessee football squad entered Saturday’s matchup against Missouri with still a far shot at contending for the SEC East divisional crown. They left Columbia, Mo. with the final nail in the coffin keeping them from spoiling the party, though.
While the Vols took a big hit against Alabama last week, the performance in that game was at least expected. Besides Johnny Football himself, no team has had any success against the Tide this season.
The Tennessee Volunteers dropped their fifth game of the season Saturday night, dropping them to 4-5 on the season, 1-4 in conference play. Missouri (8-1, 4-1) came out still controlling their own destiny to punch their ticket to Atlanta in just their second season in the SEC.
Mental errors on both sides of the ball were the main reason for the Vols 31-3 loss to the Tigers. On the defensive end if they weren’t getting torched through the air by leaving receivers wide open, Maty Mauk was beating them with his legs by rushing for 114 yards while throwing for 163 yards and three touchdowns.
Mauk is a dual-threat quarterback, the type of quarterback Tennessee has had their fair share of trouble with containing over the years. Earlier this year they allowed Florida’s backup quarterback Tyler Murphy to rush for 84 yards and a touchdown, and also allowed South Carolina’s Connor Shaw to rush for 78 yards and a touchdown.
The Volunteers also gave true-freshman Josh Dobbs his first start of his collegiate career, but there wasn’t much good that came out of it. Dobbs threw the ball for 240 yards while adding 45 more yards with his legs, but was also responsible for all three of the Vols turnovers by throwing two interceptions, and fumbling late in the first half as well.
Saturday was not the debut Dobbs was looking for, but he’ll have to shake-off his dismal performance in a hurry. Tennessee will welcome the No. 11 Auburn Tigers to Knoxville, Tenn. next weekend, their seventh ranked opponent of the season.
Even though the Vols are below .500 for the first time in 2013, they still remain just two games shy of being bowl eligible, which is what first-year head coach Butch Jones made his ultimate goal for the 2013 campaign, and first step in rebuilding the once proud program.
Tennessee and Auburn will kick-off at noon EDT next Saturday, Nov. 9 from Neyland Stadium on ESPN.