There’s no way around it, second halves haven’t been good to Tennessee in big games this season.

The Volunteers have been outscored 51-23 in the second half in three losses, including 35-6 in their last two against Georgia and LSU at home.

“It’s kind of our thing since I’ve been here,” said senior middle linebacker Austin Johnson, who had six tackles against LSU. “Last year, we had a bunch of those games we’d come at halftime tied with them, or down 10 points or so. Then we’d come out the second half and get blown out.

“It’s just something that — I’m not sure what it is. We have that confidence coming back out. We have that energy. We’ve just got to make stops. I think they kind of just figure us out, they make those big plays and it hurts us.”

Nose tackle Daniel Hood was encouraged by the defense’s performance in the first half.

“I think the first half against LSU I liked how we came out with emotion and sustained it for both quarters,” he said. “Then the second half we didn’t do as well, but I liked how we had everybody playing with that passion that you see of the great Tennessee teams in the past.

“Now the challenge is having that same passion for four quarters.”

It was Tennessee’s mantra last year to fall behind in the second half, especially against the best opponents.

Against then No. 7 Oregon last year, Tennessee had a 13-3 lead in the second quarter, but the Ducks scored 45 unanswered points to win, including five second-half touchdowns, to win 48-13. Against No. 7 Alabama, the Vols were down just 13-10 at halftime but lost 41-10.

It’s a trend they’ll have to change when they travel to Tuscaloosa to face the second-ranked Crimson Tide this weekend.

“I don’t think it’s been much schematic. I would say it if I thought there was,” UT head coach Derek Dooley said. “I think there’s a level of physical stamina that our team doesn’t have right now. That’s going to come in time with experience in learning how to sustain those physical kind of games for 60 minutes. I think it does take a toll.”

Dooley said past second half issues may have been because of a lack of composure, leading to frustration, especially against Georgia, but that wasn’t the issue against LSU.

“I thought we were a lot more composed in this game,” Dooley said. “We got in the hole 14 to nothing and it started looking bad in the second quarter, and nobody panicked, and they were calm. That was the first time in an SEC game that’s happened. And we went 10 plays, 80 yards and scored, so I was proud of that.”

Rivera on watch list

Junior tight end Mychal Rivera has been named to the mid-season watch list for the John Mackey Award, given to the best tight end in the nation. Rivera ranks second in the SEC among tight ends in receiving yards (248) and receptions (19).

Lattimore out for season

Tennessee’s home match-up Oct. 29 against No. 14 South Carolina is slated for a 7:15 p.m. kickoff on either ESPN or ESPN2.

The Gamecocks lost star running back Marcus Lattimore for the season after he tore a ligament in his left knee and suffered cartilage damage in a 14-12 win over Mississippi State on Saturday. Lattimore, who rushed for 818 yards and totaled 1,000 all-purpose yards in seven games this season, accounted for nearly 36 percent of South Carolina’s offense, the most for a single player in the SEC.