Tennessee Volunteers vs. Memphis Tigers: game preview

A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts and links to SB Nation game pages.

This is a long post full of moving pictures and stats, so I'm putting the conclusions and predictions both at the beginning and at the end.

Conclusions

  • Memphis has a decent running back in Curtis Steele, a good receiver in Duke Calhoun, a quarterback who can get the ball to them, and a line that does a decent job at protecting the QB. As a package, though, it's a worse-than-most offense that should really struggle against Monte Kiffin's defense.
  • The Tigers are giving up over 400 yards and 30 points per game against a relatively weak schedule, and should present few challenges for Montario Hardesty and the offense.
  • Hoo-wee! These guys can punt!

Predictions

  • Tennessee 42, Memphis 9

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

Memphis Logo
Mississippi Rebels 9/6/09 loss 14 - 45
@ Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders 9/12/09 loss 14 - 31
Tenn.-Martin Skyhawks 9/19/09 win 41 - 14
Marshall Thundering Herd 9/26/09 loss 16 - 27
@ Central Florida Golden Knights 10/3/09 loss 14 - 32
UTEP Miners 10/10/09 win 35 - 20
@ Southern Miss. Golden Eagles 10/17/09 loss 16 - 36
East Carolina Pirates 10/27/09 loss 19 - 38

 

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Two interceptions, a fumble, and a collapse at the end of the game. The drive chart makes it appear as if this game was closer than the 45-14 score indicates.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Well, they handled Tennessee-Martin.

Okay.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Oneathose you-can't-win-with-field-goals games.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Oh, the shame of losing to the pony-tailed knight. The most amusing part is the visual effect of those two consecutive one-yard drives.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

A shootout with the pick-axed, efficient and muscular man's man!

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

A humiliating defeat at the wings of Southern Miss.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

My, that is ugly, and I'm not talking about East Carolina's Captain D's logo, either. Three fumbles and an interception against 5 TDs from a fry cook can't be fun.

National Unit Rankings

Now on to the national rankings.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category
National
Rank
Actual
National
Leader
Actual
Conf
Rank
Conference USA
Conference Leader
Actual
Rushing Offense
80
134.38
Nevada
319.13
8
UAB
230.00
Passing Offense
46
232.13
Houston
422.63
5
Houston
422.63
Total Offense
70
366.50
Houston
563.25
7
Houston
563.25
Scoring Offense
102
21.13
Texas
41.75
9
Houston
41.63
Passing Efficiency
81
121.36
Cincinnati
168.49
6
Houston
158.73
Sacks Allowed
12
1.00
Oklahoma St.
.50
1
Memphis
1.00

 

Offensive observations. Apart from being very good at protecting their quarterback and (probably consequently) being slightly better than average in the passing game, Memphis is worse than average at everything else on offense and are downright deplorable at actually putting points on the board.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category
National
Rank
Actual
National
Leader
Actual
Conf
Rank
Conference USA
Conference Leader
Actual
Rushing Defense
105
197.75
Texas
52.88
8
UCF
92.29
Pass Efficiency Defense
70
130.41
Florida
88.43
4
SMU
107.83
Total Defense
100
416.50
TCU
235.75
8
UCF
335.29
Scoring Defense
98
30.38
Penn St.
9.33
8
UCF
19.14
Pass Defense
61
218.75
Air Force
136.44
4
Tulane
209.00
Sacks
T-74
1.75
Pittsburgh
4.13
6
UCF
3.29
Tackles For Loss
55
5.88
Cincinnati
9.50
5
UCF
8.57

 

Defense. Ditto the defense. Only slightly better than average at tackles behind the line of scrimmage, but worse than most at everything else including the all-important total defense. They're giving up over 400 yards and thirty points per game.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category
National
Rank
Actual
National
Leader
Actual
Conf
Rank
Conference USA
Conference Leader
Actual
Net Punting
13
38.98
Georgia
44.13
1
Memphis
38.98
Punt Returns
116
2.71
Minnesota
19.00
12
East Carolina
17.71
Kickoff Returns
73
21.08
Stanford
31.77
10
UCF
26.19
Turnover Margin
102
-.88
Rutgers
2.25
10
Houston
.88

 

Special teams and Turnovers. Memphis can punt well (then again, so can Georgia), but they don't do so well returning either punts or kickoffs. They also rank in the triple digits in turnover margin.

Stastical Comparison

Here's how the two teams stack up against each other in each of the key statistical categories in Hooper's wizbang BlogPoll Computerer:

Rank Team WL SOS PED RD 3DO TD PEO OPPG TO 3DD
27
Tennessee Logo
64
16
16
25
83
13
63
22
59
13
110
Memphis Logo
102
106
70
105
81
100
81
98
70
33

 

Players to watch for

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
Rushing Curtis Steele
28
99.33
  T.J. Pitts
33.83
  Lance Smith
18.62
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Will Hudgens
70
125.22
Total Offense Will Hudgens
155.50
  Curtis Steele
99.33
Receptions Per Game Duke Calhoun
T-28
6.25
  Carlos Singleton
3.62
Receiving Yards Per Game Duke Calhoun
14
95.50
  Carlos Singleton
49.50
Interceptions Greg Jackson
.14
  Deante' Lamar
.12
  Darius Davis
.12
  Jada Brown
.12
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Matt Reagan
4
45.30
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game)  
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Curtis Johnson
21.25
Field Goals Matt Reagan
T-42
1.25
Scoring Matt Reagan
6.12
  Curtis Steele
6.00
  Duke Calhoun
3.75
All-Purpose Runners Curtis Steele
81
109.83
  Duke Calhoun
92.88
Sacks Mike McDonald
.38
  Greg Terrell
.29
Tackles Greg Jackson
7.14
Tackles For Loss Greg Jackson
.79
  Dontari Poe
.69


Observations

Running backs. It's a bit odd that the Tigers have a running back (Curtis Steele) ranked 28th in the nation with 99 yards per game and yet the team ranks 80th and gets only 134 yards per game on the ground. They spread the ball around between Steele and two other backs for some reason, but Steele appears to be solid and the best of the bunch.

Quarterbacks. Will Hudgens ranks behind Jonathan Crompton in passing efficiency and likely is not experiencing the upward trend that Crompton is.

Receivers/Tight Ends. Duke Calhoun appears to be the go-to receiver, nabbing over six receptions per game and gaining 95.5 yards per game, the latter of which ranks him 14th in the nation. He's the A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffery of the week. Keep an eye on Carlos Singleton as well.

Defense. Nothing to fear here, really, but Greg Jackson leads the team in both tackles and tackles for losses with 7.14 and .79 per game respectively.

Special teams. Matt Reagan both punts and kicks field goals. His 45.30 punt average puts him at 4th in the nation. He's also solid kicking field goals, as he's tied for 42nd nationally.

Head to Head Comparisons

  Tennessee Logo Memphis Logo
Best Comparable
Result Against Best Comparable
Prediction
UT rush v. Memphis rush defense
172.13
(#42)
197.75
(#105)
Auburn
(#96)
151
200
UT pass v. Memphis pass defense
207.63
(#72)
218.75
(#61)
Georgia
(#73)
310
260
Memphis rush v. UT rush defense
107.75
(#25)
134.38
(#80)
South Carolina
(#87)
65
75
Memphis pass v. UT pass defense
173.88
(#15)
232.13
(#46)
South Carolina
(#41)
300
180
UT scoring offense v. Memphis scoring defense
29.13
(#46)
30.38
(#98)
Georgia
(#89)
45
42
Memphis scoring offense v. UT scoring defense
17.75
(#22)
21.13
(#102)
WKU
(#105)
7
9

 

Again, not math, but informed guesses.

Prediction? About 200 yards on the ground and 260 through the air for Tennessee, compared to around 75 and 180 respectively for Memphis.

Conclusions

  • Memphis has a decent running back in Curtis Steele, a good receiver in Duke Calhoun, a quarterback who can get it to him, and a line that does a decent job at protecting the QB. Together, though, it's a worse-than-most offense that should really struggle against Monte Kiffin's defense.
  • The Tigers are giving up over 400 yards and 30 points per game to inferior teams, and should present few challenges for Montario Hardesty and the offense.
  • Hoo-wee! These guys can punt!

Predictions

  • Tennessee 42, Memphis 9
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