The more the story changes, the more it stays the same. After two weeks of playing the biggest and the best toe-to-toe in the first half before being punched in the mouth in the second half, the Vols were hoping to put those disasters behind them Saturday against South Carolina.
Unfortunately for Tennessee, history repeated itself yet again.
This time the floodgates did not open for a blowout as they had the previous two weeks, but the Vols' disastrous offensive play made this one even more difficult to stomach for many Tennessee fans.
Here's how the team graded out following the 14-3 loss to South Carolina.
You really hate to give a true freshman quarterback making his first start such a low grade considering the circumstances, but Justin Worley was clearly in over his head for most of the night.
Nerves got the best of him early as the Rock Hill, SC native sailed a sure touchdown toss five feet over Da'Rick Rogers head.
Worley did make some incredible passes and showed a couple of glimpses of his enormous potential, but the interception on the 1-yard line following Vols defensive back Prentiss Waggner's interception to the South Carolina 2-yard line was another back-breaking moment for the Vols.
The ultimate dagger was Worley's second interception, throwing into double coverage on the first play following a South Carolina fumble at their own 28-yard line.
Matt Simms came on in relief and looked decent on the Vols' final offensive drive of the night.
Poole wasn't nearly as successful against South Carolina as he was against LSU and Alabama, but that's not all his fault. There were a couple of ugly runs, but for the most part, Poole wasn't the reason for the Vols' lack of a running game.
Apparently the few times that Poole was stuffed were reason enough for the coaches to almost completely abandon the running game in favor of putting all the pressure on a true freshman quarterback.
Poole only had three attempts for three yards in the second half after rushing for 35 yards on 15 carries in the first half.
It was a pretty bad night all around for the Vols' wide receivers. Da'Rick Rogers let a sure touchdown pass go right through his arms in the first half and didn't really do much to help out his true freshman quarterback the rest of the evening.
DeAnthony Arnett had three catches on three absolute bullets from Worley for 59 yards and Mychal Rivera caught a couple of passes.
Zach Rogers' 14-yard reception kept the Vols' final drive alive. Following a 3rd-down grab on the same drive, Da'Rick Rogers stepped backward and was tackled one yard away from the marker. He then fell down while making a cut on his route on 4th down, resulting in an incomplete pass.
The Vols' rushing woes were rediscovered against South Carolina. In a couple of big moments inside the 10-yard line, the line was either pushed back or didn't give Poole enough room to do much of anything.
Three Vols O-linemen jumped early causing a false start penalty on what was going to be a 4th down attempt from the Gamecocks' 20-yard line in the first quarter. After that penalty pushed the Vols back too far to try for the 1st down, Mychal Rivera jumped on the field goal attempt and forced Tennessee to move back another five yards. The 47-yard field goal attempt on the next play was blocked.
On a 4th-and-1 attempt at the 44-yard line, the Vols got almost no push up front and Worley was stuffed on the sneak.
Worley was only sacked once.
The Tennessee D-Line was tough and tenacious most of the night. Led by future NFL draft first-rounder Malik Jackson, the Vols front got after Connor Shaw early and often with two sacks and three hurries.
The Vols were gashed a bit allowing 249 yards on the ground, with 64 of those yards coming from quarterback Connor Shaw.
AJ Johnson once again led all tacklers with 12 tackles, and Austin Johnson made a couple of plays as well.
The linebackers were nowhere to be found on the Gamecocks' first touchdown, which came on a 4th-down pass to an uncovered tight end who slipped past the front-loaded, run-expecting Vols defense in the first half.
In a reversal of recent misfortunes, Tennessee's defensive backs played very well against the Gamecocks. Alshon Jeffery was covered most of the night and only had a few short receptions.
Brian Randolph had a forced fumble. Prentiss Waggner returned an interception 54 yards to the South Carolina 2-yard line and recorded a sack.
Michael Palardy was responsible for the only points the Vols scored for a second straight week. But he had one field goal blocked as well.
Tennessee tried an onside kick to open the second half, but Palardy's kick went out of bounds.
Matt Darr and Palardy both averaged over 35 yards per punt and three of their five punts landed inside the South Carolina 20-yard line.
Devrin Young had a 38-yard kickoff return and tallied 63 total yards on two returns.
For the first time this season, this coaching staff should shoulder most of the blame for a loss. Hindsight is 20/20, but placing so much on a true freshman quarterback making his first start was probably not the brightest idea.
Not to say Matt Simms would have fared any better than Worley, but calling two consecutive pass plays from the Gamecocks' 4-yard line after Worley's first two attempts sailed wide of their targets was borderline ridiculous.
Throwing for the end zone, down by 11 with more than 12 minutes remaining on the first play following a Tennessee fumble recovery inside the Gamecocks' 30, was another head-scratcher.
The coaches once again gave up on the running game too soon, only rushing Poole three times in the second half.
A steadier dose of Poole and some easier pass plays might have helped Worley settle in a bit better.
Saturday night's game was one of the more frustrating Tennessee games of the season. The Vols began four drives inside of the South Carolina 30-yard line and were able to muster only three points.
In addition to terrible offensive play, the Tennessee coaches seemingly threw a true freshman quarterback to the wolves with so many pass plays in what should have been running situations.
A couple of negative runs apparently have become reason enough to abandon that aspect of the game.
On the brighter side, Tennessee's defense played well most of the night. The 99-yard South Carolina drive that took up most of the third quarter was the third such drive in as many games by a Tennessee opponent at Neyland Stadium.
With games remaining against top-10 Arkansas and a rejuvenated Vanderbilt squad, a bowl game is anything but guaranteed for the 3-5 Vols at this point.