Continuing to refocus on the process of becoming a good program again . . .
As you'd expect, playing Memphis worked some wonders for Tennessee's stats and national rankings this week. The things the Vols are doing well are the same as last week, but the rankings were better. UT improved one spot from 11th to 10th in fewest yards penalized per game and a whopping 13 spots from 21st to 8th in kickoff return yardage defense. Unfortunately, the Vols were unable to crack the top third in any other categories.
|Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Top Quarter
|Category||This Week||Last Week|
|Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game||10th||11th|
|Kickoff Return Yardage Defense||8th||21st|
We did get two new players in the Top 50, though. Marsalis Teague and Chad Cunningham stayed there, Tauren Poole climbed back in, and Prentiss Waggner propelled himself to a crowded 5th with two fumble recoveries this week. Tyler Bray does not have the requisite minimum of 15 pass attempts per game to rank, but just for fun . . . in the only game in which he did pass for 15 attempts or more, he had 325 yards, which would put him at No. 3 in the nation. Woo for stat manipulation and a small sample size that includes only Memphis!
|Prentiss Waggner||T-5th||Fumbles Recovered|
|Marsalis Teague||35th||Passes Defended|
Now on to what we'll euphemistically call Tennessee's greatest opportunities for improvement. After the jump.
Categories In Which Tennessee
|Pass Sacks Allowed||114th||118th||106th||Y/N|
|Tackles for Loss Allowed||111th||116th||102nd||Y/N|
|Offense Fourth Down Efficiency||108th||108th||114th||Y|
|Red Zone Efficiency||108th||118th||116th||Y|
|Offense Third Down Efficiency||101st||110th||115th||Y|
|Time of Possession||96th||95th||104th||-|
UT has shown marked improvement in passing efficiency, turnovers, total offense, scoring offense, scoring defense, and sacks over the past couple of weeks, so much so that they're no longer ranked in the bottom fourth of teams nationally. They've also improved at returning punts (at least this week), first downs, offensive third down efficiency, and red zone efficiency. Most of that is offensive improvement, but there is some defensive improvement as well.
The Vols are still looking for consistent improvement in pass sacks and tackles for loss allowed as well as pass defense. We're going nowhere in kickoff returns, and our rushing offense is getting worse, although that might be related to the improved passing attack.
In all, Tennessee has been among the worst teams in college football in 18 statistical categories sometime in the past three weeks. Today, that number is only 11. They have a long way to go, but it does appear that they are making progress. Sure, much of the improvement this week was due to playing Memphis, but the numbers from before that were due to playing one of the nation's toughest schedules with a rebuilding squad. Can the team continue to improve throughout November? Stay tuned.