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Monitoring Tennessee's Improvement

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Continuing to refocus on the process of becoming a good program again . . .

As you'd expect, playing Memphis worked some wonders for Tennessee's stats and national rankings this week. The things the Vols are doing well are the same as last week, but the rankings were better. UT improved one spot from 11th to 10th in fewest yards penalized per game and a whopping 13 spots from 21st to 8th in kickoff return yardage defense. Unfortunately, the Vols were unable to crack the top third in any other categories.

Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Top Quarter
Category This Week Last Week
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 10th 11th
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 8th 21st


We did get two new players in the Top 50, though. Marsalis Teague and Chad Cunningham stayed there, Tauren Poole climbed back in, and Prentiss Waggner propelled himself to a crowded 5th with two fumble recoveries this week. Tyler Bray does not have the requisite minimum of 15 pass attempts per game to rank, but just for fun . . . in the only game in which he did pass for 15 attempts or more, he had 325 yards, which would put him at No. 3 in the nation. Woo for stat manipulation and a small sample size that includes only Memphis!

Player Ranking Stat
Prentiss Waggner T-5th Fumbles Recovered
Chad Cunningham 29th Punting
Marsalis Teague 35th Passes Defended
Tauren Poole 49th Rushing


Now on to what we'll euphemistically call Tennessee's greatest opportunities for improvement. After the jump.

Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Bottom Quarter

Category W10 W9 W8 Better?
Pass Sacks Allowed 114th 118th 106th Y/N
Tackles for Loss Allowed 111th 116th 102nd Y/N
Offense Fourth Down Efficiency 108th 108th 114th Y
Red Zone Efficiency 108th 118th 116th Y
Offense Third Down Efficiency 101st 110th 115th Y
First Downs 101st 108th 111th Y
Kickoff Returns 101st 102nd 101st N
Rushing Offense 97th 96th 91st N
Time of Possession 96th 95th 104th -
Punt Returns 93rd 108th 104th Y
Pass Defense 91st 90th 95th N/Y
Pass Sacks 81st 98th 106th Y
Scoring Defense 80th 93rd - Y
Scoring Offense 78th 93rd 94th Y
Total Offense 78th 90th 95th Y
Turnover Margin 56th 94th - Y
Turnovers Gained 52nd 91st - Y
Passing Efficiency 51st - 92nd Y


UT has shown marked improvement in passing efficiency, turnovers, total offense, scoring offense, scoring defense, and sacks over the past couple of weeks, so much so that they're no longer ranked in the bottom fourth of teams nationally. They've also improved at returning punts (at least this week), first downs, offensive third down efficiency, and red zone efficiency. Most of that is offensive improvement, but there is some defensive improvement as well.

The Vols are still looking for consistent improvement in pass sacks and tackles for loss allowed as well as pass defense. We're going nowhere in kickoff returns, and our rushing offense is getting worse, although that might be related to the improved passing attack.

In all, Tennessee has been among the worst teams in college football in 18 statistical categories sometime in the past three weeks. Today, that number is only 11. They have a long way to go, but it does appear that they are making progress. Sure, much of the improvement this week was due to playing Memphis, but the numbers from before that were due to playing one of the nation's toughest schedules with a rebuilding squad. Can the team continue to improve throughout November? Stay tuned.