Tennessee Volunteers vs. Troy Trojans: statistic-based game preview

Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

Tennessee gets a reprieve from opponents in the top 15 of the current BCS standings to host Troy on Saturday. What do the numbers say about what we should expect?

A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts, links to SB Nation game pages, and statistical comparisons. Caveats. Also, it's a long post, so we're putting the conclusions up top and the basis for those conclusions, including the head-to-head chart, below.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Tennessee has lost five games, and those have been to #7 Florida, #6 Georgia, #15 Mississippi State, #1 Alabama, and #8 South Carolina. Troy has lost four games, and those have been to Louisiana, Mississippi State, Western Kentucky, and Florida Atlantic, all unranked except for Mississippi State, to whom they lost by six at home and to whom we lost by 10 on the road. The Vols schedule is the 5th-most difficult in the nation, and the Trojans' is 115th.
  • Troy has a good passing offense and a good total offense because of that and an average run offense. Their defense is middle-of-the-road, and they are allergic to the opponent's backfield. Special teams is not very good, but they can punt well enough.
  • Running back Shawn Southward runs well in the right direction, and QB Corey Robinson spreads it around a lot, including to Chandler Worthy, who is a receiver with a name worth saying.
  • The head-to-head chart has the Vols getting over 500 yards and nearly 50 points for a 25-point win.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 49, Troy 24

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

Troy Logo
@ UAB Blazers 9/1/12 win 39 - 29 coverage
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 9/8/12 loss 24 - 37 coverage
Mississippi St. Bulldogs 9/15/12 loss 24 - 30 coverage
@ North Texas Mean Green 9/22/12 win 14 - 7 coverage
@ South Alabama Jaguars 9/29/12 win 31 - 10 coverage
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 10/11/12 loss 26 - 31 coverage
Fla. International Golden Panthers 10/20/12 win 38 - 37 coverage
@ Florida Atlantic Owls 10/27/12 loss 27 - 34 coverage
Tennessee Logo
@ N.C. State Wolfpack 8/31/12 win 35 - 21 coverage
Georgia State Panthers 9/8/12 win 51 - 13 coverage
Florida Gators 9/15/12 loss 20 - 37 coverage
Akron Zips 9/22/12 win 47 - 26 coverage
@ Georgia Bulldogs 9/29/12 loss 44 - 51 coverage
@ Mississippi St. Bulldogs 10/13/12 loss 31 - 41 coverage
Alabama Crimson Tide 10/20/12 loss 13 - 44 coverage
@ South Carolina Gamecocks 10/27/12 loss 35 - 38 coverage

According to the NCAA's "Toughest Schedule" PDF, Tennessee's schedule is now 5th, and this fella Troy's is 115th, and they've lost nearly as many games. That has to be a good sign, right?

Here's the drive chart for the two teams' only common opponent:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.

That thing makes it look like Mr. Trojans would have had a very good offensive performance against the Bulldogs if only he could have not fumbled twice, not thrown two interceptions, and not missed a field goal on five consecutive possessions. So maybe he's just an unlucky chap. Fortunately for us, we are a very lucky football team. #honeywhere'smysarcasmfont?!

National Unit Rankings

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conf Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 55 167.25 Army 383.13 6 Arkansas St. 220.38
Passing Offense 22 292.38 Baylor 395.71 1 Troy 292.38
Total Offense 26 459.63 Oklahoma St. 586.14 2 La.-Monroe 464.88
Scoring Offense 65 27.88 Oregon 53.38 6 La.-Monroe 39.25
Passing Efficiency 59 133.36 Air Force 186.71 6 Western Ky. 159.38
Sacks Allowed T-35 1.50 Air Force .00 4 North Texas .63

Offensive observations. Oh, good. Troy's got a Passing Offense in the top 25 and a Total Offense just outside it. Fortunately, he can't run the ball. He is, after all, just one guy. He can't do it all.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conf Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 67 166.00 Alabama 57.25 5 Western Ky. 107.50
Pass Efficiency Defense 100 144.11 Alabama 86.62 8 Western Ky. 124.60
Total Defense 62 399.38 Alabama 203.13 4 Western Ky. 319.38
Scoring Defense 62 26.88 Alabama 8.13 2 Western Ky. 22.63
Pass Defense 62 233.38 Alabama 145.88 4 Arkansas St. 195.50
Sacks 104 1.25 Tulsa 4.38 8 Western Ky. 3.63
Tackles For Loss 96 4.75 Stanford 9.50 7 Western Ky. 8.00

Defensive observations. Oh, good, and I mean it this time. Our offense should have a football field day this Saturday. Nothing better than middle of the road, and a pass efficiency defense in the cellar (hi!) along with no ability to pressure the quarterback or disturb things behind the line of scrimmage.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Conf Leader Actual
Net Punting 33 39.07 Florida 44.48 2 La.-Lafayette 41.12
Punt Returns 80 7.31 Boston College 29.43 4 Western Ky. 10.75
Kickoff Returns 92 19.30 Utah 30.71 7 Middle Tenn. 27.88
Turnover Margin 95 -.63 Kent St. 2.38 8 La.-Monroe .88

Special teams and turnovers observations. Boy can punt.

Players to Watch

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Shawn Southward 45 86.50
Deon Anthony 32.62
Justin Albert 29.00
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Corey Robinson 68 129.55
Total Offense Corey Robinson 48 253.14
Deon Anthony 99.12
Shawn Southward 86.50
Receptions Per Game Chip Reeves T-63 5.25
Eric Thomas T-78 4.75
Chandler Worthy 3.75
Shawn Southward 3.38
Receiving Yards Per Game Chip Reeves 32 82.50
Eric Thomas 46.75
Chandler Worthy 44.25
Scoring Will Scott 6.62
Shawn Southward 5.25
Eric Thomas 3.00
Chip Reeves 3.00

Offensive Observations. I'm confused by all of these names. Where's Troy? Has that joke worn itself out yet? Yes! Okay.

Senior RB Shawn Southward, which has to be the best name for a running back this season if not EVER, is actually ranked 45th in the nation, so watch out for him. But with a name like that, I wonder if they only play him every other quarter. Bum-dum-chump crash.

Junior QB Corey Robinson seems to be okay at his job responsibilities, and he does a good job of spreading it around.

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
DEFENSE
Interceptions Bryan Willis .17
Brynden Trawick .12
Brannon Bryan .12
De'Von Terry .12
Sacks Tony Davis .38
Tyler Roberts .25
Jacoby Thomas .25
Tackles Brynden Trawick 7.25
Brannon Bryan 6.50
Kanorris Davis 6.50
Tackles For Loss Tony Davis .81

Defense. Well. Senior Tony Davis looks like the guy you're going to key on along the line, but honestly, Tennessee's offensive line shouldn't have any problems here unless their collective heads aren't screwed on right. The secondary, too, looks balanced, but not especially potent.

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Will Scott 67 40.67
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Justin Albert 47 7.31
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Chandler Worthy 53 22.81
Field Goals Will Scott T-50 1.12
All-Purpose Runners Shawn Southward 58 115.50
Chandler Worthy 98.25
Chip Reeves 82.50

Special teams. Chandler Worthy. I just wanted to say his name.

Head to Head Comparisons

Tennessee Logo Troy Logo
Comps
Result Against Comps
Prediction
UT rush v. Troy rush defense 158.75
(#68)
166
(#67)
Georgia
(157)
(#58)
197 200
UT pass v. Troy pass defense 297.25
(#21)
233.38
(#62)
Akron
(241.22)
(#73)
401 330
Troy rush v. UT rush defense 181.50
(#85)
167.25
(#55)
MS St.
(163.75)
(#60)
141 160
Troy pass v. UT pass defense 271.88
(#103)
292.38
(#22)
NC State/Akron
(306.88/316)
(#18/#13)
288/229 250
UT scoring offense v. Troy scoring defense 34.50
(#30)
26.88
(#62)
NC State
(23)
(#41)
35 49
Troy scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 33.88
(#101)
27.88
(#65)
NC State/Akron
(27.88/28)
(#65/#63)
21/26 24
Again with the caveats: These are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations. But here's the general analytical framework: 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. And one more time for emphasis: 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.

If you're new to this chart, here's how it works, taking Troy's predicted score as an example. UT is generally allowing 33.88 points per game (gulp). Troy generally gets about 28, which is exactly what NC State is averaging and just a tad less than Akron is averaging. Against those two teams, the Vols allowed 21 and 26 points respectively. So the educated guess for Troy's points is 24. Why is Tennessee's score so far off from the best comp? Because that best comp is not particularly close, and because of the two teams' respective strength of schedules. And just because I think we're lighting up the scoreboard this week.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Tennessee has lost five games, and those have been to #7 Florida, #6 Georgia, #15 Mississippi State, #1 Alabama, and #8 South Carolina. Troy has lost four games, and those have been to Louisiana, Mississippi State, Western Kentucky, and Florida Atlantic, all unranked except for Mississippi State, to whom they lost by six at home and to whom we lost by 10 on the road. The Vols schedule is the 5th-most difficult in the nation, and the Trojans' is 115th.
  • Troy has a good passing offense and a good total offense because of that and an average run offense. Their defense is middle-of-the-road, and they are allergic to the opponent's backfield. Special teams is not very good, but they can punt well enough.
  • Running back Shawn Southward runs well in the right direction, and QB Corey Robinson spreads it around a lot, including to Chandler Worthy, who is a receiver with a name worth saying.
  • The head-to-head chart has the Vols getting over 500 yards and nearly 50 points for a 25-point win.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 49, Troy 24
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