Tennessee Volunteer national statistical rankings after Week 9

Joe Robbins

Just how different would this season be right now if this year's Tennessee team had last year's defense? We look a bit differently at the statistical rankings this week to find out.

Caveats.

Regardless of what's going to happen (or not) to the current coaching staff, the team's progress matters. Knowing what the team does well and what it needs to improve is extremely important to the goal of getting the program competitive in the SEC again, regardless of who's tasked with that goal. So, not knowing whether there's a press conference in our immediate future, we continue to forge ahead.

Here are the latest NCAA statistical rankings for the Vols after the South Carolina game, grouped into three categories: Those things in which UT is in the Top 30, those things in which UT is in the Bottom 30, and everything else. First up, the Stuff UT Is Doing Well.

Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Top Quartile
Category

2011

NCS GS FL AK GA MSB AL SC TR MO VAN KY
Pass Sacks Allowed 40 29 14 13 7 4 3 2 3
Tackles for Loss Allowed 38 97 55 57 55 58 26 14 6
Passing Offense 50 13 9 14 8 14 22 28 21
Red Zone Efficiency 58 65 57 43 24 22 14 19 25
Passes Intercepted 86 1 3 11 2 2 18 24 26
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 51 39 53 59 42 39 40 26 26
Total Offense 104 23 15 30 17 18 22 34 29
Scoring Offense 106 43 15 37 23 22 24 37 30

Dropped out: Defense Third-down Efficiency (now 31), Kickoff Return Yardage Defense (now 33).
New Arrivals: Total Offense, Scoring Offense.

Same story, different week. The offensive line is a pass-protecting machine, the one play given up to Jadaveon Clowney this weekend notwithstanding, and the offense is very good, primarily because of a very good passing game and an improving run game.

Here's a Bonus Chart that compares offensive statistical rankings this time last year with this year's rankings, because Tennessee's rankings should, theoretically, be as bad at the end of October as they will get for the entire season.

Category

Post-October 2011

Post-October 2012 Improvement
Total Offense 102 29 +73
Scoring Offense 96 30 +66
Rushing Offense 119 68 +51
Sacks Allowed 42 3 +39
Passing Offense 45 21 +24

The offense has greatly improved with the exception of passes intercepted, which was 109th at this point last year and is 103rd a year later. The problem, of course and as we all now know, is that the defense is negating the gains and obscuring the progress. I won't add that little bonus chart here because we all know what it would look like. I included this one because there are many sound reasons and arguments for making a change to the coaching staff, but what Derek Dooley and Jim Chaney have done with the offense is not among them.

#OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Bottom Quartile
Category

2011

NCS GS FL AK GA MSB AL SC TR MO VAN KY
Fumbles Recovered 71 66 60 79 97 70 93 86 97
Total Defense 28 70 48 77 68 79 87 95 99
Scoring Defense 36 54 38 64 61 81 90 96 101
Pass Defense 12 86 73 66 66 74 84 92 103
Passes Had Intercepted 63 1 28 78 76 100 92 101 103
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency 48 37 76 82 88 85 97 102 103
Time of Possession 37 38 81 87 83 63 82 94 106
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense 47 58 95 108 104 110 116 117 118

New Arrivals: None, woo.
Climbed out: Pass Sacks (now 86), Turnovers Lost (now 82), Offense Fourth-down Efficiency (now 58).

Defense, defenese, defense. Defense. Defense.

So far in 2012, Sal Sunseri's defense is giving up 33.88 points per game. Last year at this time, Justin Wilcox's defense was allowing 23.88 points per game, and against Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, they allowed 33, 20, 37, and 14 points. If this year's team did that, it would have still lost to Florida and Alabama, but it would have beaten Georgia and South Carolina, and our conversations would be very different this morning.

THE BIG FAT MIDDLE

And here's the rest, for tracking purposes.

Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Middle
Category

2011

NCS GS FL AK GA MSB AL SC TR MO VAN KY
Defense Third-down Efficiency 57 57 27 18 17 28 14 29 31
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 7 76 63 64 53 33 30 28 33
First Downs 98 40 30 44 18 21 25 41 39
Passing Efficiency 69 32 8 35 24 39 39 49 39
Fumbles Lost 6 43 59 40 47 49 49 51 40
Fewest Penalties Per Game 56 52 53 75 69 71 66 45 45
Kickoff Returns 41 38 14 23 55 65 49 52 57
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency 91 58 54 38 76 74 77 100 58
Turnovers Gained 91 3 7 28 20 11 39 48 59
Offense Third-down Efficiency 56 43 49 63 67 54 49 63 59
Punt Returns 61 59 51 54 38 41 47 48 63
Rushing Offense 116 45 42 71 57 49 45 57 68
Tackles for Loss 67 65 53 62 81 74 69 84 71
First Downs Allowed 18 71 79 77 70 62 72 75 79
Turnover Margin 59 4 18 48 41 55 69 80 80
Punt Return Yardage Defense 85 5 8 26 29 20 20 73 81
Turnovers Lost 20 23 51 55 69 94 85 93 82
Net Punting 104 32 56 42 46 60 73 75 84
Rushing Defense 69 46 36 84 74 92 81 89 85
Pass Sacks 100 68 47 83 94 100 95 91 86
Pass Efficiency Defense 48 28 13 29 17 30 39 66 87

Players in the Top 30

Player Stat 2011 NCS GS FL AK GA MSB AL SC TR MO VAN KY
Cordarrelle Patterson Kickoff Returns - - 5 15 16 22 2 2 4
A.J. Johnson Total Tackles - - - - - - 11 7 5
Byron Moore Interceptions - 5 - - 6 5 4 6 7
Tyler Bray Passing Yards Per Game - 10 11 13 9 14 16 20 16
Tyler Bray Total Passing Yards - 10 7 9 9 8 24 23 18
Tyler Bray Points Responsible For - - 12 22 10 16 19 32 24
Tyler Bray Total Offense - 17 20 21 14 23 28 36 28
Tyler Bray Passing - 16 - 27 22 24 28 32 29
FORMERLY IN THE TOP 30
Justin Hunter Receiving Yards Per Game - - 14 18 13 26 41 31 34
Cordarrelle Patterson All-Purpose Running - - 8 23 - - 28 29 36
Justin Hunter Total Receiving Yards - - 11 12 5 17 47 37 37
Justin Hunter Receptions Per Game - 9 14 19 13 25 47 45 43
Curt Maggitt Forced Fumbles - 6 - - - - 27 28 43
Tyler Bray Passing Efficiency - 30 5 28 22 35 35 49 36
Curt Maggitt Forced Fumbles - - - - - 21 -
Derrick Brodus Field Goals - - - - 18 23 -
Brian Randolph Solo Tackles - - 13 - 29 - -
Cordarrelle Patterson Total Receiving Yards - - 30 - - - -
Willie Bohannon Fumbles Recovered - - 17 - - - -
Eric Gordon Interceptions - 5 - - - - -
Prentiss Waggner Interceptions - 5 - - - - -
Marsalis Teague Interceptions - 5 - - - - -
Maurice Couch Forced Fumbles - 6 - - - - -
Byron Moore Solo Tackles - 11 - - - - -
Michael Palardy Field Goals - 13 - - - - -
Curt Maggitt Pass Sacks - 20 - - - - -
Cordarrelle Patterson Scoring - 25 - - - - -
Devrin Young Kickoff Returns - 30 - - - - -
2011
Austin Johnson Interceptions 23
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