Tennessee Vols At Vanderbilt Commodores: Game Preview And Stat Comparison

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

CAVEATS: You know the drill. Also, this: all of the following information is gleaned exclusively from the NCAA statistics and does not account for things like injuries, shared playing time, and other stuff difficult to see in the stats from a bird's eye view. As always, this is a long post, so I've put the conclusions and predictions before and after the meat. You're not seeing double.

 

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Tennessee and Vandy have played a very similar schedule and have had very similar final results, although UT generally showed better in those results.
  • Vanderbilt is one of the 11 worst teams in the nation in four of six offensive categories, and losing their top two running backs has, of course, not helped.
  • The Commodore defense can't stop the run, can't stop the pass, and generally can't stop the opposing offense from doing whatever it wants, but they will tackle your running back for a loss like it's nobody's business. You know, right before they let him score on the next play. DB Casey Howard is an interception machine, though, too, so that's the one guy Tyler Bray should avoid.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 38, Vanderbilt 17.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

Vanderbilt Logo
Northwestern Wildcats 9/4/10 loss 21 - 23 coverage
LSU Tigers 9/11/10 loss 3 - 27 coverage
@ Mississippi Rebels 9/18/10 win 28 - 14 coverage
@ Connecticut Huskies 10/2/10 loss 21 - 40 coverage
Eastern Michigan Eagles 10/9/10 win 52 - 6 coverage
@ Georgia Bulldogs 10/16/10 loss 0 - 43 coverage
South Carolina Gamecocks 10/23/10 loss 7 - 21 coverage
@ Arkansas Razorbacks 10/30/10 loss 14 - 49 coverage
Florida Gators 11/6/10 loss 14 - 55 coverage
@ Kentucky Wildcats 11/13/10 loss 20 - 38 coverage

 

Tennessee and Vandy, both being from the SEC East and playing each other late in the season, have several common opponents. We both lost to LSU (yeah, I know), Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, but the Vols' losses have generally not been as bad as have Vandy's. Both teams beat Ole Miss, but UT beat 'em better. Let's take a quick look at the drive charts for the most recent common opponent, South Carolina. Here's how Vandy fared against the Gamecocks on October 23:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Charts brought to you by Gameday Depot.

 

Oh, Vandy. No matter how bad their record gets or how bad their stats look, they still always seem to play teams tough and just lose out in the end.

Anyway, here's how we did against South Carolina a week later:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Yeah, sort of Vandy-esque there, although you could also point to the difference being two different QBs losing their heads too close to their own end zone and giving 14 points away.

National Unit Rankings

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 82 138.90 Georgia Tech 319.30 11 Auburn 307.91
Passing Offense 113 141.40 Hawaii 371.00 11 Arkansas 343.60
Total Offense 115 280.30 Oklahoma St. 547.50 12 Auburn 505.18
Scoring Offense 110 18.00 Oregon 50.70 12 Auburn 42.82
Passing Efficiency 116 99.42 Boise St. 187.23 12 Auburn 182.07
Sacks Allowed 105 2.90 Army .40 11 Mississippi 1.00

 

Offensive observations. Oh, wow. The best thing the Commodores do on offense is run the ball, and they're nearly in the bottom fourth in the nation in that. Everything else? Bottom fourth. They're one of the 11 worst teams in the nation in four of six offensive categories.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 100 196.20 Boston College 74.60 12 South Carolina 97.60
Pass Efficiency Defense 99 141.62 Nebraska 91.55 11 Alabama 100.41
Total Defense 106 437.20 TCU 223.18 12 LSU 273.60
Scoring Defense 91 31.60 TCU 10.91 11 Alabama 13.40
Pass Defense T-95 241.00 TCU 134.64 9 LSU 148.60
Sacks T-71 1.80 Florida St. 3.90 9 South Carolina 3.50
Tackles For Loss 8 7.60 Boise St. 8.89 1 Vanderbilt 7.60

 

Defensive observations. Oh, no! Vandy's one of the best defensive teams in the nation!* (*in tackles for loss). Seriously, how does a team become the 8th-best team in the nation in TFLs and end up 71st in sacks? If I was a running back, I'd sue that deep pocket University for position discrimination.

Everything else, bad, bad, bad. Can't stop the run, can't stop the pass, can't stop the offense from either gaining yards or scoring. They will tackle your running back behind the line when they're not letting him loose for 20-yard runs and scores, though.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Net Punting 34 37.95 Florida 42.25 5 Florida 42.25
Punt Returns 81 6.86 Oregon 20.73 9 Arkansas 18.31
Kickoff Returns 48 22.42 Arizona St. 26.64 6 Florida 26.12
Turnover Margin 76 -.30 Ohio St. 1.40 11 Georgia .73

 

Special teams and turnovers observations. Hey, we're not really in a position to make fun of special teams returns now, are we? Vandy has a decent punter, and they're not as bad at returning punts or kickoffs as they are on offense and defense, so there's something nice to say.

Stastical Comparison

Here's how the teams looked when the RTT BlogPoll Computery Thing chewed them up and spit them out.

Rank Team WL SOS PED RD 3DO TD PEO OPPG TO 3DD
68 Tennessee Logo 74 19 37 70 95 74 44 68 73 51
112 Vanderbilt Logo 101 14 99 100 119 106 116 91 115 52

 

Woo for all that orange. Note that Vandy does not shy away from tough schedules, though, so give them props.

Players to watch for

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Warren Norman 57.38
Zac Stacy 36.78
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Larry Smith 98.83
Total Offense Larry Smith 141.20
Receptions Per Game Brandon Barden 2.80
Receiving Yards Per Game
DEFENSE
Interceptions Casey Hayward T-10 .50
Sacks Rob Lohr .35
Tackles Sean Richardson T-73 8.20
Chris Marve T-85 8.00
John Stokes 6.90
Casey Hayward 5.70
Tackles For Loss Chris Marve .78
Walker May .75
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Richard Kent 55 41.57
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) John Cole 50 7.53
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Warren Norman 39 25.36
Eric Samuels 19.21
Field Goals Ryan Fowler .56
All-Purpose Runners Warren Norman 26 140.88
 


Observations

Offense. A few weeks ago, Stormin' Warren Norman, who is the real deal disguised in black and gold, suffered a season-ending injury. Not longer after that, backup RB Zac Stacy also suffered a season-ending injury. So the 'Dores are essentially without a running back. This is Not Good News for QB Larry Smith, who sorry to say can't really afford to have an entire defense keyed on stopping him. Heck, under those circumstances, getting the ball to the team's leading receiver -- Brandon Barden -- 2.8 times per game is quite an achievement.

Defense. Junior defensive back Casey Howard is tied for 10th in the nation in interceptions with a whopping five on the season, so don't throw in his direction. DB Sean Richardson and LB Chris Marve are nationally ranked in tackles, averaging 8.2 and 8.0 tackles per game respectively.

Special teams. Special teams took as big of a hit as the offense when Warren Norman went out for the season. Sophomore wide receiver John Cole returns punts and does a decent job of it. I'm betting he starts by catching the ball and holding on to it, unlike our guys.

Head to Head Comparisons

How'd we do with the head-to-head comparisons during Ole Miss week? Not bad on UT's offense and the Rebels' ground game. Whiffed in a good way on the Ole Miss passing game and the score on both sides of the board, which, by the way, makes two weeks in a row I've been overly pessimistic on Tennessee's score, so I plan to correct for that this week.

  Prediction Result
UT rush 110 118
UT pass 290 323
Ole Miss rush 220 196
Ole Miss pass 170 99
UT score 34 52
Ole Miss score 32 14

 

So let's see how we can do this week:

  Tennessee Logo Vanderbilt Logo
Best Comparable(s)
Result Against Best Comp
Prediction
UT rush v. Vanderbilt rush defense 118.90
(#97)
196.20
(#100)
Memphis
(181)
(#90)
130 200
UT pass v. Vanderbilt pass defense 241.10
(#41)

241
(#95)

Ole Miss
(241)
(#95)
323 300
Vanderbilt rush v. UT rush defense 160.30
(#70)
138.90
(#82)
Florida
(146.40)
(#70)
150 140
Vanderbilt pass v. UT pass defense 225.70
(#77)

141.40
(#113)

LSU
(141.30)
(#114)
215 180
UT scoring offense v. Vanderbilt scoring defense 27.60
(#57)
31.60
(#91)
UAB
(33.60)
(#100)
23/32
(Reg./OT)
38
Vanderbilt scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 27.20
(#68)
18
(#110)
Memphis
(14.10)
(#118)
14 17

 

As always, these are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations. The general analytical framework is this: We are averaging X in a certain category. The opponent averages Y against that, which is most closely comparable to some identified previous opponent, against whom we did Z. All of that leads to an informed guess labeled as Prediction. The less data you have, the more sketchy the guess, and the guesses range from ALL CAPS SKETCHY WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS at the beginning of the season to merely lower case sketchy for the last game.

This week's example: Tennessee is averaging nearly 120 yards on the ground per game. Vandy gives up nearly 200. The closest former UT opponent comparable to Vanderbilt's rush defense is Memphis, who's a little bit better, and UT got 130 against them, ten over their average. Like I said, Vandy's even worse in rush defense, and we saw the passing game last week open up the rushing game late, so I'm guessing UT's yards on the ground will be closer to what Vandy's giving up on a weekly basis than what Tennessee's getting. General optimism gives the prediction a little juice.

Overall, I'm guessing UT will gain something more than 150 yards more than Vandy, will hold them to their average score, and will fall short of the 50-point mark for the first time in three weeks, but will still have more than enough to win comfortably.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Tennessee and Vandy have played a very similar schedule and have had very similar final results, although UT generally showed better in those results.
  • Vanderbilt is one of the 11 worst teams in the nation in four of six offensive categories, and losing their top two running backs has, of course, not helped.
  • The Commodore defense can't stop the run, can't stop the pass, and generally can't stop the opposing offense from doing whatever it wants, but they will tackle your running back for a loss like it's nobody's business. You know, right before they let him score on the next play. DB Casey Howard is an interception machine, though, too, so that's the one guy Tyler Bray should avoid.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 38, Vanderbilt 17.
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