Tennessee Volunteers Vs. Ole Miss Rebels: Game Preview And Stat Analysis

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

  • Ole Miss has played Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas, but that's about it. The rest of the schedule is loaded with poor teams, so their stats should probably be discounted slightly. Tennessee has compiled its stats against a much stronger schedule.
  • Forget about Jeremiah Masoli's arm. It's fine, but the strength of Ole Miss's offense is their ground game, which features running back Brandon Bolden, who ranks one spot behind Tauren Poole in the national rankings, and Jeff Scott and Masoli, who together add nearly another 100 rushing yards.
  • The Rebels' defense is not good, but they do quite well in sacks and tackles for loss, most of which come not from defensive linemen, but from linebackers.
  • Mystery! Ole Miss ranks second in the nation in punt returns, but no single player ranks nationally. They must be dabbling with a lot of different players, but what's the whole story here? Homework for y'all.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 34, Ole Miss 32. But that's got a good deal of post-Memphis WOO in it, so beware.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

Ole Miss Logo
Jacksonville St. Gamecocks 9/4/10 loss 48 - 49 coverage
@ Tulane Green Wave 9/11/10 win 27 - 13 coverage
Vanderbilt Commodores 9/18/10 loss 14 - 28 coverage
Fresno St. Bulldogs 9/25/10 win 55 - 38 coverage
Kentucky Wildcats 10/2/10 win 42 - 35 coverage
@ Alabama Crimson Tide 10/16/10 loss 10 - 23 coverage
@ Arkansas Razorbacks 10/23/10 loss 24 - 38 coverage
Auburn Tigers 10/30/10 loss 31 - 51 coverage
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 11/6/10 win 43 - 21 coverage

 

Common drive charts? Yeah, we have one of those. Alabama versus us:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Charts brought to you by Gameday Depot.

And Alabama versus them:

 

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Well. Alabama held both offenses to a mere 10 points. And can we conclude with respect to the defense that the difference is that Ole Miss played an entire game, and Tennessee just fell apart in the second half?

National Unit Rankings

Now on to the national rankings.

 

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 13 221.56 Georgia Tech 320.56 2 Auburn 307.20
Passing Offense 78 195.89 Hawaii 371.00 9 Arkansas 353.89
Total Offense 34 417.44 Oregon 567.22 5 Auburn 509.40
Scoring Offense 32 32.67 Oregon 54.67 6 Auburn 42.20
Passing Efficiency 50 134.46 Boise St. 191.79 7 Auburn 182.03
Sacks Allowed 12 .78 Marshall .22 1 Mississippi .78

 

Offensive observations. With highly-heralded Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback, I was surprised to see that the Rebels' passing offense isn't better than that. I also must not have been paying attention all season, because I had no idea their rushing game was so good. It balances out to be a pretty good offense, both in yards and in points. Oh, and we can probably forget about getting any sacks this game.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 51 143.78 Kent St. 69.33 8 South Carolina 104.56
Pass Efficiency Defense 99 142.94 Miami (FL) 92.17 11 Alabama 100.03
Total Defense 69 375.67 TCU 215.50 10 LSU 282.89
Scoring Defense 100 32.89 TCU 8.50 12 Alabama 13.78
Pass Defense 86 231.89 TCU 121.90 8 LSU 157.67
Sacks T-18 2.78 Florida St. 4.22 3 South Carolina 3.56
Tackles For Loss 32 6.67 Kent St. 9.33 6 Vanderbilt 7.56

 

Defensive observations. Heres a bit of good news. The defense the Vols will be going up against this weekend isn't that great. They're Top 20 in sacks, but other than that, they don't crack the top third. Scoring defense and pass efficiency defense are in the bottom third, and pass defense isn't much better. Tennessee should be able to pass all day and score a bunch of points against these guys.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Net Punting 109 32.67 Florida 42.06 12 Florida 42.06
Punt Returns 2 20.70 Utah 20.76 1 Mississippi 20.70
Kickoff Returns 96 20.12 Kansas St. 28.29 10 Auburn 26.17
Turnover Margin 61 -.11 Ohio St. 1.44 8 Mississippi St. .78

 

Special teams and turnovers observations. UT will need to move Janzen Jackson back to gunner on punt return coverage and have its game face on in that phase, because Ole Miss ranks second in the nation in returning punts. Other than that, though, special teams is not a strength for the Rebs. Actually, that's a touch too nice. They're not good at special teams, except for returning punts, at which they excel. Go figure.

Statistical 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
82 Ole Miss Logo 70 61 99 51 68 69 50 100 34 48
90 Tennessee Logo 85 13 66 67 101 78 51 80 78 71

 

The most important thing here, I think, is the Strength of Schedule. Ole Miss has compiled its stats against a middle-of-the-road schedule, while Tennessee has compiled its own against a schedule that is one of 15th-most difficult in the nation. And UT still has better numbers than the Rebels in pass efficiency defense and opponents points per game, and it's not too far behind in rushing and total defense. Ole Miss is much better on third downs on offense, but with Gerald Jones back in the lineup, Tennessee is trending the right way and doing so quickly.

Players to watch for

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Brandon Bolden 50 80.78
Jeff Scott 50.71
Jeremiah Masoli 49.56
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Jeremiah Masoli 53 130.03
Total Offense Jeremiah Masoli 59 218.56
Brandon Bolden 80.78
Receptions Per Game Melvin Harris 2.78
Brandon Bolden 2.67
Receiving Yards Per Game Markeith Summers 48.44
Melvin Harris 37.11
Scoring Bryson Rose T-27 8.67
Brandon Bolden T-41 8.00
DEFENSE
Interceptions Charles Sawyer .22
Sacks Jonathan Cornell .44
Gerald Rivers .36
D.T. Shackleford .33
Allen Walker .33
Tackles Jonathan Cornell 7.00
Damien Jackson 6.50
Fon Ingram 6.00
Johnny Brown 5.75
Tackles For Loss Jonathan Cornell T-26 1.38
Jerrell Powe .72
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Tyler Campbell 20 44.74
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game)
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Jesse Grandy 92 21.77
Field Goals Bryson Rose T-16 1.56
All-Purpose Runners Jesse Grandy 56 117.78
Brandon Bolden 70 111.44


Observations

Offense. Again, I'm a little surprised at Masoli's numbers here. He's middle-of-the-pack, and none of his receivers are ranked. His main guys appear to be Markeith Summers and Melvin Harris, but they're averaging only 48.44 and 37.11 yards respectively. What makes them go is the ground game, led by junior running back Brandon Bolden, who is neck and neck with Tauren Poole in the national rankings. The backup, Jeff Scott, and Masoli each account for another 50 yards per game.

Defense. The only player ranked nationally for the Rebels is senior linebacker Jonathan Cornell, who's tied for 26th in tackles for loss. Note that he's a linebacker, not a defensive lineman. The two things Ole Miss does well on defense is sacks and tackles for loss, but of the five names on the leaderboard of those stat categories, only Gerald Rivers and Jerrell Powe are linemen, so my initial fear that our young offensive line was going to get dominated by a defensive line may be a bit misplaced. The havoc comes from mostly from the LBs. On the other hand, often the job of a D-line is to stalemate the o-line and allow the LBs to make those plays, so maybe the fear is well-founded.

Special teams. And here's the first big mystery and homework assignment for y'all. Ole Miss is second in the nation in punt returns, yet they have no single player who ranks nationally, so they must be using a lot of different guys. What's the story there? Other than that, they have a very good place kicker in Bryson Rose, so Tenessee will have to keep Ole Miss out of range.

Head to Head Comparisons

How'd we do with the head-to-head comparisons during Memphis week? Over-optimistic on rushing yards and under-optimistic on passing yards, rushing defense, and both scores, all of which bodes well for this week against Ole Miss.

  Prediction Result
UT rush 160 130
UT pass 260 379
Memphis rush 100 64
Memphis pass 200 244
UT score 38 50
Memphis score 17 14

 

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

  Tennessee Logo Ole Miss Logo
Best Comparable(s)
Result Against Best Comp
Prediction
UT rush v. Ole Miss rush defense 119
(#97)
143.78
(#51)

UAB
(153.11)
(#64)

42 110
UT pass v. Ole Miss pass defense 232
(#53)
231.89
(#86)
UAB
(247.89)
(#101)
245 290
Ole Miss rush v. UT rush defense 156.33
(#67)
221.56
(#13)
Oregon
(305.44)
(#5)
245 220
Ole Miss pass v. UT pass defense 239.78
(#91)
195.89
(#78)
Florida
(200.44)
(#77)
167 170
UT scoring offense v. Ole Miss scoring defense 24.89
(#78)
32.89
(#100)
UAB
(31.33)
(#96)
23/32
(Reg./OT)
34
Ole Miss scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 28.67
(#80)
32.67
(#32)
Alabama
(32.78)
(#31)
41 32

 

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 rushing for 119 yards per game. Ole Miss is holding opponents to about 144 yards per game. The prior UT opponent that most closely resembles the Rebels' rush defense is UAB, against whom Tennessee ran for only 42 yards. But remember, Tauren Poole wasn't himself for that game, and he's had over 100 yards in three of the past five games, games that included South Carolina, Alabama, and LSU, teams with very strong defenses. Ole Miss is not a strong defense, so add some yards for that. Toss in a few yards for general post-Memphis WOO delusion, and we get 120 yards.

Note just how much I'm "ignoring" the numbers in the analysis above, and beware, I've done so in each of the predictions in the chart and included a general post-Memphis Tyler Bray WOO factor as well.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Ole Miss has played Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas, but that's about it. The rest of the schedule is loaded with poor teams, so their stats should probably be discounted slightly. Tennessee has compiled its stats against a much stronger schedule.
  • Forget about Jeremiah Masoli's arm. It's fine, but the strength of Ole Miss's offense is their ground game, which features running back Brandon Bolden, who ranks one spot behind Tauren Poole in the national rankings, and Jeff Scott and Masoli, who together add nearly another 100 rushing yards.
  • The Rebels' defense is not good, but they do quite well in sacks and tackles for loss, most of which come not from defensive linemen, but from linebackers.
  • Mystery! Ole Miss ranks second in the nation in punt returns, but no single player ranks nationally. They must be dabbling with a lot of different players, but what's the whole story here? Homework for y'all.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 34, Ole Miss 32. But that's got a good deal of post-Memphis WOO in it, so beware.
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