Tennessee Volunteers Vs. UAB Blazers: Game Preview & 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.

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

  • UAB has had some unfortunate oddities in their first three games, from losing on a last second field goal attempt to a certain red zone wonkiness that looks and smells like a curse. They have scored four TDs on their last four drives, though, so perhaps the curse is broken just in time for their trip to Knoxville. Yay!
  • The Blazers lead C-USA in rushing yards, largely due to QB David Isabelle. Otherwise, their offense is pretty much as middle-of-the-road as you'd expect. The offense seems to be a three-man game, with Isabelle's running being the primary threat. Running back Pat Shed and receiver Frantrell Forrest are the other two main guys. [Note by Joel, 09/21/10 10:40 AM EDT ] Backup QB Bryan Ellis came in late last week and had enough success to come from way behind to win. (Hat tip to Incipient_Senescence for the discovery.)
  • As funky as their offense has been, their defense appears to be consistently bad over three games. They're strongest in sacks and rushing defense, but mostly they're in the bottom fourth in defensive categories. Apart from defensive lineman Bryant Turner, who can apply pressure to the backfield, the Blazers' defense should be vulnerable.
  • Trey Ragland is an excellent punter, ranks fourth in the nation with an average of 48.4 yards, and can knock one the length of the field and make it stop at the one if you let him. The Blazers are better at kickoff returns than punt returns, at least after three games.
  • Like last week, the two teams may actually be relatively even on yards, but the numbers suggest that Tennessee should win on the scoreboard. Of course, that probably depends on continuation of the red zone curse for the Blazers or some other turnover advantage for the Vols, which is a sketchy thing on which to rely. But after three games, maybe it's who they are.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 34, UAB 17.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

 

UAB Logo
Florida Atlantic Owls 9/2/10 loss 31 - 32 coverage
@ SMU Mustangs 9/11/10 loss 7 - 28 coverage
Troy Trojans 9/18/10 win 34 - 33 coverage

 

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Yikes. Solid start, both offensively and defensively. A little back and forth for awhile, and then a pick six to change momentum. We have no idea how that feels. Look at that punt on FAU's second-to-last possession.What is that, some 65 yards and downed at the one? Force a punt, get the go-ahead touchdown? UAB misses a field goal that could have won the game? Like I said, that's a yikes game for UAB.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Oh, my. All sorts of futility in gradient segmented lines. That 76 yard punt downed at the one was an absolute beaut, but it was followed up by the hapless FCS opponent Mustangs (HT: Incipient_Senescence again) with a 99-yard TD drive. UAB did put together a couple of decent drives, but one mysteriously ended at the five yard line when time expired in the first half without a field goal attempt, and the opening drive of the second half was fumbled at the goal line. Odd.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Bless their hearts, every time the Blazers got close to the end zone in the first half, Something Really Bad happened. Do they not have a field goal kicker? Either they give it up on downs, fumble it away, or throw it to the other team. And look at that defense. Lots of solid red lines for the Troy Troys. But . . .

. . . but have the Blazers found themselves just in time for Tennessee? They scored four TDs on their last four drives coming into this game, one of them a 99-yarder to win the game by a single point. [Note by Joel, 09/21/10 10:38 AM EDT ] Credit backup QB Bryan Ellis for that. (HT: Incipient_Senescence) Clutch? Yes. Fluke? We hope so.

National Unit Rankings

Now on to the national rankings.

 

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conference USA Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 30 204.00 Air Force 399.00 1 UAB 204.00
Passing Offense 75 202.67 Oklahoma St. 391.67 9 Tulsa 328.00
Total Offense 51 406.67 Oregon 611.67 6 Tulsa 517.67
Scoring Offense 81 24.00 Oregon 63.00 8 Houston 45.00
Passing Efficiency 85 118.39 Auburn 191.48 9 Houston 159.90
Sacks Allowed 65 2.00 Penn St. .00 8 Marshall .33

 

Offensive observations. Hmm. Nothing special to see here. The Blazers' running game is quite respectable, and they lead C-USA with 204 yards per game. We're getting 181, just for comparison's sake, although we hope the UT Martin, Oregon, Florida slate is tougher than FAU, FCS, Troy Trojans of Troy (We're from Troy!).

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conference USA Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 73 162.33 Texas 44.00 9 Tulane 78.00
Pass Efficiency Defense 101 146.86 Oregon 61.20 8 UCF 87.79
Total Defense 103 444.67 Oregon 193.33 9 UCF 261.67
Scoring Defense 98 31.00 Oregon 4.33 7 UCF 15.00
Pass Defense 105 282.33 Stanford 90.00 8 UCF 133.00
Sacks T-43 2.33 Fresno St. 5.00 5 Marshall 3.67
Tackles For Loss 80 5.00 Miami (FL) 12.50 10 Southern Miss. 8.00

 

Defensive observations. Well, here's some special stuff, albeit of the "bless your heart" variety. UAB ranks over the century mark nationally in every defensive category save sacks (43rd, respectable), rushing defense (bottom half), and scoring defense (bottom fourth).

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conference USA Leader Actual
Net Punting 4 44.53 Boston College 47.13 1 UAB 44.53
Punt Returns 98 3.89 Miami (FL) 27.75 10 Tulsa 13.80
Kickoff Returns 21 25.50 Indiana 40.40 3 SMU 28.56
Turnover Margin T-89 -1.00 Ohio St. 3.33 8 East Carolina 1.00

 

Special teams and turnovers observations. Well, a 76 yard punt will certainly skew your average, but the Blazers actually appear to be very good at kicking the ball high and long, so don't expect anything spectacular for the Vols on punt returns. The good news: we probably don't need to worry about them returning punts against us, either. Or so we hope. Kickoff returns may be another story.

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 SCORE
71 Tennessee Logo -0.867 1.462 0.704 -0.087 -2.118 0.629 -0.717 -0.271 0.010 0.291 -25.804
103 UAB Logo -0.867 -0.010 -0.972 -0.306 -0.710 -1.209 -0.627 -0.752 0.266 -0.002 -67.167

 

So UAB appears to be better than Tennessee at 3rd down offense (anyone surprised?), pass efficiency offense, and turnover margin, but Tennessee has better numbers everywhere else and has done it against better competition.

Players to watch for

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
Rushing David Isabelle T-43 88.00
Pat Shed 73 68.67
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) David Isabelle 89.85
Total Offense David Isabelle 94 156.00
Pat Shed 68.67
Receptions Per Game Frantrell Forrest 3.33
Receiving Yards Per Game Frantrell Forrest 50.67
Jackie Williams 39.33
Interceptions T.J. Ballou T-69 .33
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Trey Ragland 3 48.40
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Pat Shed 65 4.38
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Pat Shed 20 28.83
Frantrell Forrest T-40 24.83
Field Goals Josh Zahn T-94 .33
Scoring Jackie Williams 6.00
David Isabelle 6.00
All-Purpose Runners Pat Shed 21 157.67
Frantrell Forrest 99.67
David Isabelle 88.00
Sacks Bryant Turner T-7 1.33
Marvin Burdette T-56 .67
Connor Boyett .33
Tackles
Tackles For Loss Bryant Turner T-9 2.00
Elliott Henigan 1.00


Observations

Offense. This looks a lot like a true three-man game on offense for the Blazers. The QB, David Isabelle, despite having a woman's given name for a surname, appears to be the real deal, but more of a threat on the ground than through the air. He's tied for 43rd in rushing in the nation, ranked against true running backs, but he's not ranked at all in either passing yards or passing efficiency. [Note by Joel, 09/21/10 10:39 AM EDT ] Backup QB Bryan Ellis had some significant success late last week. (HT: I_S) The running back, Pat Shed, gets a respectable 69 yards per game but ranks in the lower half in the nation. He's also the punt and kickoff return guy, and he does quite well returning kicks, thank you. The team's leading receiver is Frantrell Forrest, and he's getting 3.33 catches per game for 50.67 yards, but isn't ranked nationally. He's also the other guy back for kickoffs. Other than that, though, nobody really shows up as a true threat on offense. Jackie Williams does get nearly 40 receiving yards per game.

Defense. The main guy here appears to be defensive lineman Bryant Turner, who's tied for 7th nationally in sacks and 9th nationally in tackles for loss. Marvin Burdette is also getting some pressure in the backfield. Notice that empty Tackles category. Not just nothing special to see here, nothing to see here.

Special teams. Trey Ragland is the name behind the excellent punting for the Blazers. The field goal kicker, Josh Zahn, is one of two on the season. Again, Pat Shed is both the punt and kickoff returner, and to date, he's done better returning kicks than punts.

Head to Head Comparisons

First, a quick glance at how this analysis did last week against Florida:

  Prediction Result
UT rush 200 29
UT pass 170 259
Florida rush 170 150
Florida pass 160 167
UT score 17 17
Florida score 28 31

 

Not bad, considering, although this early in the season, you should just chalk it up to blind luck. The Tennessee rush and passing yards were both way off, but the total yards were close enough.

Okay, so what do we have for this week?

  Tennessee Logo UAB Logo
Best Comparable(s)
Result Against Best Comparable
Prediction
UT rush v. UAB rush defense

181
(#42)

162
(#73)

Oregon/Florida
(92/94)
(#26/#25)
182/29 180
UT pass v. UAB pass defense 205
(#73)
282
(#105)
Florida/Oregon
(184/100)
(#49/#3)
259/151 300
UAB rush v. UT rush defense 150
(#65)
204
(#30)
Florida/Oregon
(168/381)
(#52/#2)
150/245 200
UAB pass v. UT pass defense 152
(#24)
203
(#75)
Florida/Oregon
(151/231)
(#103/#49)
167/202 185
UT scoring offense v. UAB scoring defense 27
(#70)
31
(#98)
Florida/Oregon
(14/4)
(#16/#1)
17/13 34
UAB scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 26
(#80)
24
(#81)
Florida/Oregon
(34/63)
(#32/#1)
31/48 17

 

Even when we have a full season of data, this section will include the caveat that these are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations. The general analytical framework is this: We accomplished 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: We're averaging 181 yards on the ground. UAB, on average, is giving up 162. Of our previous opponents, Florida's rush defense most closely resembles Oregon's and Florida's, who are ranked right next to each other. Against Oregon, we managed 182, and against Florida were gained only 29, so, yeah, what in the world. Both Oregon and Florida appear to be much better than UAB, so let's assume (and hope!) it will be more like Oregon than Florida and call it 180.

This week, we again have sort of an odd scenario where the yards could be relatively more even than the score. Fortunately for the Vols, Tennessee should be on the better end of the scoreboard.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • UAB has had some unfortunate oddities in their first three games, from losing on a last second field goal attempt to a certain red zone wonkiness that looks and smells like a curse. They have scored four TDs on their last four drives, though, so perhaps the curse is broken just in time for their trip to Knoxville. Yay!
  • The Blazers lead C-USA in rushing yards, largely due to QB David Isabelle. Otherwise, their offense is pretty much as middle-of-the-road as you'd expect. The offense seems to be a three-man game, with Isabelle's running being the primary threat. Running back Pat Shed and receiver Frantrell Forrest are the other two main guys. [Note by Joel, 09/21/10 10:40 AM EDT ] Backup QB Bryan Ellis came in late last week and had enough success to come from way behind to win. (Hat tip to Incipient_Senescence for the discovery.)
  • As funky as their offense has been, their defense appears to be consistently bad over three games. They're strongest in sacks and rushing defense, but mostly they're in the bottom fourth in defensive categories. Apart from defensive lineman Bryant Turner, who can apply pressure to the backfield, the Blazers' defense should be vulnerable.
  • Trey Ragland is an excellent punter, ranks fourth in the nation with an average of 48.4 yards, and can knock one the length of the field and make it stop at the one if you let him. The Blazers are better at kickoff returns than punt returns, at least after three games.
  • Like last week, the two teams may actually be relatively even on yards, but the numbers suggest that Tennessee should win on the scoreboard. Of course, that probably depends on continuation of the red zone curse for the Blazers or some other turnover advantage for the Vols, which is a sketchy thing on which to rely. But after three games, maybe it's who they are.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 34, UAB 17.
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