I feel almost guilty going through the numbers. It's not like we don't know what happened; Wyoming won in a significant upset in a game that effectively drove the stake into the heart of the UT fanbase. It was a homecoming game against an offense who actually had a worse season than UT - and that against lesser competition. But Wyoming was also a team that had far less baggage, and that seemed to make all the difference.
Well, let's get into it. First, let's look at UT's defense against Wyoming's -ffense.
Compared to other teams that UT faced, the averages are right on par. UT gave up an average of 4 yards per play, which is solid. As expected, Wyoming was a slightly better running team than a passing team relative to other schools, but it's not like the difference was overwhelming. Wyoming was also run-heavy, which is why the green "Total" line is closer to the blue "Run" line for the Wyoming game. (If you were wondering why you didn't hear Berry's name more often, here's your answer.)
From the Wyoming perspective:
Ignoring the Sandy Eggo State game for a second, the next thing that jumps out is that Wyoming's passing offense had a slightly better day against Tennessee than normal. If anything, the running game was a little below par, but nothing significant. Wyoming only passed 17 times while rushing 48, so the success in passing is probably largely due to the defense anticipating more running plays. In short, it appears that Wyoming passed just enough to be successful, but not enough to get in trouble:
Eric Berry 2007 highlights (via RockyTopTalk)
On a side note, do you want to know how anomalous that San Diego State game was? Wyoming, who has 1A's lowest-scoring offense, had a better yards-per-pass-attempt mark (16.6 YPA) against SDSU than any SEC team has had against any competition this year. (I haven't tracked other schools.) The closest SEC school is Georgia, who had 14 YPA against Kentucky.
Tennessee Offense vs. Wyoming Defense
Shield the kids' eyes before jumping; this ain't pretty.
For those of you who may have asked: "Can the offense possibly get worse?" The answer lies before your very eyes. The average yards per play continued its gradual descent, ending at 3.3 yards per play. For full perspective:
- 3.3 yards per rush
- 3.3 yards per pass attempt
- 3.3 yards per play (of any type)
In the simplest terms, the success of any offense depends on two things: its own ability, and the level of the defense it faces. So if you're still with me, here's the defense UT faced on Saturday:
First, read across the bottom. You'll be comparing Wyoming's defensive outing against the Vols to their body of work against teams like North Dakota State, BYU, TCU and San Diego State. That's a pretty large spread. Like the offense, Wyoming's defense has an anomalous spike in passing yardage, though this was in the blowout loss to TCU. But here's the simple truth:
Wyoming's Defense gave up fewer yards per play against Tennessee than against any other opponent this year.
Only against New Mexico (a run-only type of team) did Wyoming have better numbers against the pass. The rushing game was near Wyoming's average, but North Dakota State rushed the ball better against Wyoming. They passed better, too. (Anybody up for hiring Craig Bohl? (-; )
Dissecting the UT Offense a bit further:
Well, at least UT had the third-greatest tally of offensive plays so far this season - a whopping 67. The mix was slightly pass-heavy due to being behind on the scoreboard; it's unfortunate the passing game was so atrocious that day.
Normally, I only show the primary passer in a game's rating (e.g. I don't include the pass from the G-Gun against Auburn). Against Wyoming, I am showing you the combined Stephens/Crompton beast. The only lower overall QB rating was the Auburn game that got Crompton yanked in the first place. And if you were wondering what the individual ratings were, first remember that Stephens had two interceptions while Crompton had 1 TD. Ready? Ok, Crompton had an 81.3 while Stephens had a 14.1. Had Stephens not been pulled, his final rating would undoubtedly have been higher, but it would have been a minor miracle to pull it above 100. (Of course, 100 would have won the game...) But the point is that Crompton's performance was roughly equal to his outing against UCLA.
You don't need me to tell you it was a bad day for the offense. You already knew basically everything that these charts show, except for how they compared to the rest of Wyoming's games. It was ugly, and there's no need for me to comment any further.