As we refocus on the process of becoming a good program again, I thought we'd take a quick look at the things the team is doing well and the things it needs to work on first. Starting with the silver lining, here's a list of things Tennessee's doing well:
|Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Top Quarter
|Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game||7th|
|Kickoff Return Yardage Defense||16th|
|Fewest Penalties Per Game||T-30th|
To me, that says that this is, in fact, a disciplined team, which is really quite an accomplishment considering its youth. Yeah, fans are rightfully screaming about the growing meme of the team's inability to get the right number of guys on the field, but the team is actually doing a good job of not giving away yards to the other team on penalties. Fumbles lost, too, I think is a sign of an emphasis on discipline by the coaches and that the players are responding. Also good is the improvement on at least one aspect of special teams: We're doing a good job of making teams start drives where they should after we score. If only we could kickoff more often.
Another silver lining: Below is a list of Tennessee players ranking in the top 50 of the national rankings, the guys who are doing more than their share to keep the team from tanking:
|Nick Reveiz||34th||Total Tackles|
|Marsalis Teague||34th||Passes Defended|
Yeah, our most nationally-noteworthy player is our punter. Hey, he's getting a lot of reps.
Now on to the list of things Tennessee really needs to work on because they're not doing them well at all. Brace.
Categories In Which Tennessee
|Red Zone Efficiency||116th|
|Offense Third Down Efficiency||115th|
|Offense Fourth Down Efficiency||114th|
|Pass Sacks Allowed||113th|
|Time Of Possession||104th|
|Tackles For Loss Allowed||102nd|
The offense is just really struggling, as they are in the bottom quarter in 11 of 15 offensive categories kept by the NCAA. The categories the team isn't in the bottom fourth in? Passing offense, interceptions thrown, fumbles lost, and turnovers lost, which would seem to indicate that Matt Simms is helping the offense more than hurting it and that he's helping it more than most.
All of the deficiencies are probably interrelated and a result of a more general ineffectiveness, but note that they include a very poor showing in allowing sacks and tackles for loss, which are likely more the cause of the other problems than an effect of them. So, we're losing this season, as we expected, along the line. How does the coaching staff fix that? Coach up the current players as best they can, continue to get them the experience that will pay off down the road, and go and get some more players. All of which just takes time.