Kevin C. Cox
A defense circling the bowl for weeks now has succumbed to the pipes. Here's this week's statistical rankings after the Alabama game, with a bonus digression into a discussion of synchronization.
The fact that the Alabama game this weekend was almost exactly what I expected did nothing to make it less disappointing. Perhaps the greatest disappointment is expecting it to begin with, which sort of extended the misery earlier into the week into a kind of pre-disappointment period. Which stinks.
If you're looking for a Bright Side, it's that Tennessee's four losses have all come against teams in the top 11 of the BCS standings, and the games against Nos. 1 and 2 have been at home while the games against Nos. 11 and 12 have been on the road. Feel better? Me neither. But it might explain some things, including the Vols' statistical rankings taking a pretty good hit this week.
Here are the latest NCAA statistical rankings for the Vols after the Alabama 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
|Pass Sacks Allowed||40||29||14||13||7||4||3||2|
|Tackles for Loss Allowed||38||97||55||57||55||58||26||14|
|Red Zone Efficiency||58||65||57||43||24||22||14||19|
|Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game||51||39||53||59||42||39||40||26|
|Kickoff Return Yardage Defense||7||76||63||64||53||33||30||28|
|Defense Third-down Efficiency||57||57||27||18||17||28||14||29|
Dropped out: Punt Return Yardage Defense (now 73!), Total Offense (now 34), Scoring Offense (now 37), First Downs (now 41).
New Arrivals: Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game.
You'd expect playing the defense that is not only #1 in the nation overall but #1 in almost every category to negatively impact your offense, and that's exactly what happened. Three categories of offense (First Downs, Scoring, and Total) all fell out of the top 30 and a couple of others (Passes Intercepted and Passing Offense) are barely hanging on.
Hey, look, a Bright Spot: The o-line and Tyler Bray are still solid in not permitting sacks, and Tackles for Loss Allowed actually and signficantly improved against the nation's best defense.
|Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Bottom Quartile
|Time of Possession||37||38||81||87||83||63||82||94|
|Offense Fourth-down Efficiency||91||58||54||38||76||74||77||100|
|Passes Had Intercepted||63||1||28||78||76||100||92||101|
|Defense Fourth-down Efficiency||48||37||76||82||88||85||97||102|
|Red Zone Efficiency - Defense||47||58||95||108||104||110||116||117|
New Arrivals: Pass Defense, Turnovers Lost, Time of Possession, Total Defense, and Offense Fourth-down Efficiency.
Climbed out: None.
At the end of last season, this Bottom 30 category had eight entries, and with the exception of Pass Sacks and a couple of special teams items, they were all offensive statistics.
We've seen a dramatic shift since then. As of right now, we have 11 entries in the Bottom 30, and of those, six are defensive statistics. The defense has been circling the bowl for awhile now, and this week, it succumbed to the pipes. Pass Sacks was bad last year and is bad this year, but most of the other categories have gone from either Top 30 or Middle 60 to Bottom 30. It stinks, is what I'm trying to say.
If you, like me, want to rush off to find solace in national rankings that show that the teams we've played have terrific offenses, then you, like me, are going to be disappointed. The following numbers are Total Offense rankings for our FBS opponents to date:
- NC State: 55th
- Florida: 100th
- Akron: 44th
- Georgia: 18th
- Mississippi State: 50th
- Alabama: 39th
This team has been out of cycle with itself for what seems like forever. I remember before I even started writing about the Vols blaming . . . who was it, Chris Leak? . . . for getting our QBs and WRs out of cycle. It forced Casey Clausen into early action, so he was learning when he had good receivers, and his receivers were learning when he got experience. I may be misremembering some of that, but that was my feeling at the time. But this much I know for certain: Recently, it has often been the case that when our defense is good, our offense is bad and vice versa. Synch up, folks.
THE BIG FAT MIDDLE
And here's the rest, for tracking purposes.
|Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Middle
|Fewest Penalties Per Game||56||52||53||75||69||71||66||45|
|Offense Third-down Efficiency||56||43||49||63||67||54||49||63|
|Pass Efficiency Defense||48||28||13||29||17||30||39||66|
|Punt Return Yardage Defense||85||5||8||26||29||20||20||73|
|First Downs Allowed||18||71||79||77||70||62||72||75|
|Tackles for Loss||67||65||53||62||81||74||69||84|
Players in the Top 30
|Cordarrelle Patterson||Kickoff Returns||-||-||5||15||16||22||2||2|
|A.J. Johnson||Total Tackles||-||-||-||-||-||-||11||7|
|Tyler Bray||Passing Yards Per Game||-||10||11||13||9||14||16||20|
|Tyler Bray||Total Passing Yards||-||10||7||9||9||8||24||23|
|Curt Maggitt||Forced Fumbles||-||6||-||-||-||-||27||28|
|Cordarrelle Patterson||All-Purpose Running||-||-||8||23||-||-||28||29|
|FORMERLY IN THE TOP 30|
|Justin Hunter||Receiving Yards Per Game||-||-||14||18||13||26||41||31|
|Tyler Bray||Points Responsible For||-||-||12||22||10||16||19||32|
|Tyler Bray||Total Offense||-||17||20||21||14||23||28||36|
|Justin Hunter||Total Receiving Yards||-||-||11||12||5||17||47||37|
|Justin Hunter||Receptions Per Game||-||9||14||19||13||25||47||45|
|Tyler Bray||Passing Efficiency||-||30||5||28||22||35||35||49|
|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||-||-||-||-|
|Maurice Couch||Forced Fumbles||-||6||-||-||-||-||-|
|Byron Moore||Solo Tackles||-||11||-||-||-||-||-|
|Michael Palardy||Field Goals||-||13||-||-||-||-||-|
|Curt Maggitt||Pass Sacks||-||20||-||-||-||-||-|
|Devrin Young||Kickoff Returns||-||30||-||-||-||-||-|