Josh Heupel must examine Tennessee football staff after Vols flop to USC

Tennessee lost the College Football Playoff on Saturday night. The Vols dropped from contention in the most stunning fashion – a blowout loss to a mediocre opponent.

Gone, too, is Hendon Hooker’s chance to win the Heisman Trophy. November performances are magnified in the race for college football’s top award, and for the second time this month, the Vols’ star quarterback got outplayed by his opposing counterpart in a loss. Worse, he exited in the fourth quarter after his left knee buckled during a run, a non-contact injury that resulted in a torn ACL in his final play with the Vols. What a cruel, unfair ending for a player who made Tennessee fun again.

Coach Josh Heupel must do some soul searching and staff evaluating after this debacle, because although Hooker wasn’t at a Heisman level, he shouldn’t shoulder the burden for this loss.

The Vols surrendered 606 yards in a 63-38 loss at South Carolina, with everything on the line.

South Carolina (7-4, 4-4 SEC) scored more points than it amassed in its three previous games combined.

Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler threw eight touchdown passes in the season’s first 10 games. He passed for six scores against the Vols (9-2, 5-2) and their porous secondary.

The back end of UT’s defense has been a hindrance since the loss in the Music City Bowl, to cap last season. The Vols’ pass defense ranks last in the SEC for the second consecutive year.

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