Vanderbilt football lost to Tennessee, 56-0, on Saturday night, falling short of bowl eligibility.
The Commodores (5-7, 2-6 SEC) gave up 513 yards of total offense and were tackled for loss 13 times in the game, the first shutout in the rivalry series since 2003. Sounds of "Rocky Top" filled FirstBank Stadium as the Vols (10-2, 6-2) got whatever they wanted on every side of the ball.
Here's how we graded the loss:
Vanderbilt's multifaceted rushing attack with quarterback Mike Wright worked against Kentucky and Florida, but Tennessee is a different type of defense, one that struggles most when the opponent is throwing the ball. Wright wasn't able to throw consistently, which led to further struggles in the run game.
The Commodores made the switch to AJ Swann in the third quarter. Swann played better than Wright had as he forced Tennessee to respect his arm, but he was stopped twice on fourth down in Tennessee territory. Vanderbilt had just 254 yards of total offense and averaged only 3.3 yards per play.
Tennessee's offense is one of the best in the country for a reason, but this was a particularly rough performance for Vanderbilt. The Vols constantly scored on explosive plays and the Commodores struggled to finish tackles. It could've been even worse for Vanderbilt; there were times its defensive backs were beat deep but Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton overthrew them.
Tennessee had five plays of 50 yards or more, and even more shockingly, four were rushing plays, dismantling normally a solid Vanderbilt run defense.
Special teams: F
After two games of really strong special teams, Vanderbilt's special teams fell apart against Tennessee. The Commodores allowed a punt return touchdown in the second quarter and then in the third quarter, punter Matt Hayball fumbled on what would've been a successful fake punt attempt. Joe Bulovas also missed a field goal in the second quarter.
Vanderbilt had no answers for anything Tennessee was doing, and it was even worse after halftime, especially on defense. It's fair to question, too, why the Commodores took so long to go to Swann, whose skillset is better equipped to take advantage of the Vols' weaknesses.
Vanderbilt simply got embarrassed in all facets of the game. There were no silver linings to be had, as the Vols proved to simply be a better team all around.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Vanderbilt football grades: Failing effort vs. Tennessee. Straight F's