Tennessee Volunteers vs. Vanderbilt Commodores: Game Preview

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

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Vanderbilt has had nearly the same misfortune of schedule that Tennessee has had, playing both Alabama and Arkansas from the West. Trade their Kentucky for our LSU, and we trade records.
  • The 2011 Tennessee Volunteers are not necessarily any better than a Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino®.
  • Vandy's offensive numbers are woeful, and their biggest threat is the running game, and Tennessee's defense has done an admirable job (for a half) when it can focus on stopping the run.
  • The Commodores again have a solid defense. But see Tennessee's offense. Will Tyler Bray return? Will it matter?

Predictions

  • Tennessee 14, Vanderbilt 10

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

 

Vanderbilt Logo

Elon Phoenix 9/3/11 win 45 - 14 coverage
Connecticut Huskies 9/10/11 win 24 - 21 coverage
Mississippi Rebels 9/17/11 win 30 - 7 coverage
@ South Carolina Gamecocks 9/24/11 loss 3 - 21 coverage
@ Alabama Crimson Tide 10/8/11 loss 0 - 34 coverage
Georgia Bulldogs 10/15/11 loss 28 - 33 coverage
Army Black Knights 10/22/11 win 44 - 21 coverage
Arkansas Razorbacks 10/29/11 loss 28 - 31 coverage
@ Florida Gators 11/5/11 loss 21 - 26 coverage
Kentucky Wildcats 11/12/11 win 38 - 8 coverage

Tennessee Logo

Montana Grizzlies 9/3/11 win 42 - 16 coverage
Cincinnati Bearcats 9/10/11 win 45 - 23 coverage
@ Florida Gators 9/17/11 loss 23 - 33 coverage
Buffalo Bulls 10/1/11 win 41 - 10 coverage
Georgia Bulldogs 10/8/11 loss 12 - 20 coverage
LSU Tigers 10/15/11 loss 7 - 38 coverage
@ Alabama Crimson Tide 10/22/11 loss 6 - 37 coverage
South Carolina Gamecocks 10/29/11 loss 3 - 14 coverage
Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders 11/5/11 win 24 - 0 coverage
@ Arkansas Razorbacks 11/12/11 loss 7 - 49 coverage

Games against South Carolina and Alabama ended similarly for both Vanderbilt and Tennessee. The Georgia game looks better for the Commodores, although Georgia scored more on them, as does the Arkansas game, which looks better for the 'Dores on both sides of the ball, but both of those games were at home. Florida was so long ago for us that I don't think it matters. Bottom line, the resumes for both teams are depressing, and you can point to either to support whatever argument you like. Let's try it. Premise: The Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino® from Starbucks tastes like liquid pretzel. Vandy 2011 has learned to Jump Around but is still Vandy. Tennessee is struggling this year. Therefore, the Vols are better than salted pretzels. Okay, so maybe it doesn't work for any argument.

Measuring sticks:

FULL SCREEN VERSION


FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Charts brought to you by Gameday Depot.

Looking at those two drive charts against a common opponent, it certainly looks like Vandy is much more capable than the Vols. Of course, it also serves as evidence that Vandy is as Vandy does. I mean, yikes, that had to be a heartbreaking game for them, what with the fumble for the TD, the follow up fumble, the two subsequent punts, and the missed short field goal to lose the game. We're not is as we do yet, are we?

National Unit Rankings

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conference Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 59 162.40 Army 352.00 7 Alabama 215.30
Passing Offense 100 172.50 Houston 455.70 8 Arkansas 311.30
Total Offense 99 334.90 Houston 628.80 10 Arkansas 455.70
Scoring Offense 68 26.10 Houston 54.70 6 Arkansas 38.80
Passing Efficiency 104 112.59 Wisconsin 193.17 10 Georgia 161.06
Sacks Allowed 88 2.40 Oklahoma .44 9 LSU 1.00

Offensive observations. Oh, good. Can't pass. Runs only moderately well. As Dooley said in his post-practice on-field session yesterday, the team does pretty well when they can reduce the space. It's why they've been able to sort of survive the running games, at least at times, of superpowers like Alabama and LSU. We should be able to get back to having the defense focus on one dimension, and that one dimension isn't all that great anyway. Be prepared for a couple of big passing plays resulting from overcommitment to the run, but Vandy's passing numbers suggest that that isn't a huge threat, either.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conference Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 32 122.90 Alabama 51.90 4 Alabama 51.90
Pass Efficiency Defense 32 117.62 Alabama 84.21 8 Alabama 84.21
Total Defense 22 327.60 Alabama 181.40 6 Alabama 181.40
Scoring Defense 31 21.60 Alabama 7.10 8 Alabama 7.10
Pass Defense 39 204.70 Alabama 129.50 10 Alabama 129.50
Sacks 37 2.20 Oklahoma 3.78 4 Georgia 2.50
Tackles For Loss 27 6.90 Cincinnati 8.67 4 Georgia 7.60

Defensive observations. This is a bit twitchy for Vol fans. Vandy's usually pretty stout defensively, and this year is no exception. They're basicallly top quartile in most things that matter, and they've played many of the same teams that Tennessee has, including both Alabama and Arkansas from the west. With our offensive #challenges, this could spell trouble. Good thing that Derek Dooley said that Tyler Bray's thumb has magically turned into gold upon emerging from the cast and that he's going to be AWESOME.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conference Leader Actual
Net Punting 42 37.51 Oregon 44.33 6 LSU 40.39
Punt Returns 85 6.36 Ole Miss 22.60 9 Ole Miss 22.60
Kickoff Returns 47 22.56 UTEP 27.62 9 Arkansas 25.31
Turnover Margin T-41 .30 Oklahoma St. 1.80 4 LSU 1.50

Special teams and turnovers observations. Eh.

Players to Watch

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Zac Stacy 43 89.10
Jordan Rodgers 30.50
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Jordan Rodgers 81 121.96
Larry Smith 96.41
Total Offense Jordan Rodgers 99 147.10
Zac Stacy 93.40
Larry Smith 60.12
Receptions Per Game Jordan Matthews 2.90
Receiving Yards Per Game Jordan Matthews 56.90
Chris Boyd 32.00
Scoring Zac Stacy 5.40

Offensive Observations. Redshirt junior Jordan Rodgers is Zach Rodgers' little brother and has recently lost a hundred pounds in five languages. Ba-dump bump crash. If there's anything to be particularly concerned about here, it's the fact that Rodgers is getting 30 yards per game rushing. We did okay against Zach Collaros but not so well against Jordan Jefferson. The guy for our secondary to focus on is Jordan Matthews, and Chris Boyd gets about half what Matthews gets. Zac Stacy seems serviceable.

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
DEFENSE
Interceptions Casey Hayward T-8 .50
Trey Wilson T-52 .30
Javon Marshall .20
Sacks Tim Fugger T-28 .65
Rob Lohr T-93 .45
Archibald Barnes .20
Sean Richardson .20
Tackles Chris Marve 7.20
Tackles For Loss Tim Fugger T-28 1.25
Rob Lohr T-48 1.15

Defense. Vandy has two guys nationally ranked for interceptions, including Casey Hayward, who's tied for 8th. He gets one every two games, but he hasn't had one for the last four games. Is he due or done? Senior defensive lineman Tim Fugger could be a foce to contend with. And yes, Vandy has a football player named Archibald Barnes. Are you surprised?

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Richard Kent 35 41.69
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Jonathan Krause 61 3.36
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Andre Hal 46 24.41
Field Goals Carey Spear .40
All-Purpose Runners Zac Stacy 96.90
Andre Hal 65.90

Special teams. Eh again.

Head to Head Comparisons

  Tennessee Logo Vanderbilt Logo
Comps
Result Against Comps
Prediction
UT rush v. Vanderbilt rush defense 91.90
(#116)
122.90
(#32)
South Carolina
(132)
(#44)
35 25
UT pass v. Vanderbilt pass defense 250.70
(#41)
204.70
(#39)
Arkansas
(203)
(#35)
238 250
Vanderbilt rush v. UT rush defense 166.00
(#68)
162.40
(#59)
MTSU
(159.89)
(#62)
97 100
Vanderbilt pass v. UT pass defense 192.60
(#23)
172.50
(#100)
LSU/South Carolina
(173.90/170.20)
(#99/#102)
146/87 115
UT scoring offense v. Vanderbilt scoring defense 21.00
(#102)
21.60
(#31)
Arkansas
(21.50)
(#30)
7 14
Vanderbilt scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 24.00
(#50)
26.10
(#68)
MTSU
(24.78)
(#81)
0 10

As always, these are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations, and 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: We're averaging about 90 yards per game on the ground while Vandy's opponents average about 123. The closest comp is South Carolina, against whom we rushed for 35 Fulmerized yards. I'm guessing we get 25, and the sad part is that that may be optimistic.

Should we do alternate predictions depending on whether Tyler Bray plays? I don't think so. Dooley's right. If he plays, he's not going to be the same guy he was against Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Montana. His presence may lend some much-needed confidence to the offense, but him floudering or failing could have the opposite effect. I think that if he plays, the team does better this week but doesn't set the world on fire.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Vanderbilt has had nearly the same misfortune of schedule that Tennessee has had, playing both Alabama and Arkansas from the West. Trade their Kentucky for our LSU, and we trade records.
  • The 2011 Tennessee Volunteers are not necessarily any better than a Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino®.
  • Vandy's offensive numbers are woeful, and their biggest threat is the running game, and Tennessee's defense has done an admirable job (for a half) when it can focus on stopping the run.
  • The Commodores again have a solid defense. But see Tennessee's offense. Will Tyler Bray return? Will it matter?

Predictions

  • Tennessee 14, Vanderbilt 10
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