#OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE: Monitoring Tennessee Football's Improvement, Week 9

This Tennessee team is, according to the national rankings, doing some things well, like protecting the ball and defending. Where it's struggling on offense can largely be blamed on losing some key players at just the wrong times and playing big bad bully defenses. Except for the running game, which has been consistently bad, and bad for longer than just this season. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the chart of things the Vols do (or did) well:

Categories In Which Tennessee
Was In The Top Quartile This Season
Category

2010

MT CIN FL BUF GA LSU AL SC MTSU
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 9 14 12 21 18 13 24 11 13 12
Pass Defense - - - - - - 24 - 24 17
Fumbles Lost - - - - - - T-30 - 27 20
Turnovers Lost - - - - - - T-21 - - 23
First Downs Allowed - - - - 20 22 30 30 - 24
Kickoff Returns - - - - - - - - 30 26
Red Zone Efficiency 104 T-7 - - 23 17 16 9 20 27
Scoring Defense - - - - - 29 - - - 28
Offense Third-down Efficiency - 11 4 7 T-1 4 5 23 -  
Passes Had Intercepted - - - - T-17 T-6 21 - -  
Passing Efficiency - 7 5 13 8 13 22 - -  
Passing Offense 30 16 9 11 11 11 25 - -  
Time of Possession 90 14 5 10 5 12 - - -  
Turnovers Lost - - - - T-26 14 - - -  
First Downs 92 66 11 12 11 22 - - -  
Defense Third-down Efficiency - - - - - 30 - - -  
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency - - T-1 19 T-7 - - - -  

Total Defense is #31, by the way, and just missed the cut.

Things we do well: Protect the ball. Kickoffs in both directions. Defense, at least against the pass, against points, and preventing first downs. Stuff in the red zone, but that's trending the wrong direction.

Defense as a whole has been improving and doing fairly well this year. This week will be a big test.

On to the players who made the top 30 this week:

Player Stat MT CIN FL BUF GA LSU AL SC MTSU
Da'Rick Rogers Total Receiving Yards - - - - 29 28 - - 28

Da'Rick's back!

#OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

And now for those . . . ahem . . . areasofgreatestopportunity:

Categories In Which Tennessee
Is (Or Was) In The Bottom Quartile
This Season

Category 2010 MT CIN FL BUF GA LSU AL SC MTSU
Rushing Offense 105 74 - 105 98 114 114 115 119 118
Total Offense - - - - - - - 91 102 97
Scoring Offense - 27 22 - 21 - - - 96 96
Pass Sacks - - - - - 91 T-90 93 - 96
Passes Intercepted - - - 93 111 T-113 T-116 114 109 95
Turnovers Gained - - - - 98 107 115 114 104 94
Net Punting - - - 96 116 105 110 97 94 92
Turnover Margin - - - - - - T-93 91 -  
Red Zone Efficiency Defense - - - - - - T-105 - -  
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game - - - 98 - - - - -  
Fewest Penalties Per Game - - - 97 - - - - -  
Offense Fourth Down Efficiency 96 59   94 - - - - -  
Punt Returns 109 64 - 91 - - - - -  

A couple of those categories -- net punting, turnovers gained, passes intercepted -- are climbing out of the cellar. Pass sacks seems perfectly content with its station in life.

Offense took a huge hit when several key players went out with injuries just in time to play some of the best defenses in the nation back to back to back to back. So I'm not altogether concerned about total offense and scoring offense. Those should resolve when those players return and/or when the competition cools.

Rushing offense, though? Bad last year. Bad all of this year save a couple weeks, one against a delicious pastry of an opponent. It's dragging down the rest of the offense as well, and it needs to be fixed.

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