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Monitoring Tennessee's Improvement

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

Fairly good week for the Vols on the improvement front. Two additional players climbed into the top 50, and the other four stayed there. The team also made the top 30 in an additional three categories (to make five total) and improved in six categories in which they are (4) or were (2) in the bottom quarter in the nation. That leaves five categories they still really need to improve, four of which center on the offensive line. The other is punt returns, which starts with finding someone who will actually catch the ball and hold on to it with some consistency.

All right, now on to the details. This week, the things UT does well (as defined as those things in which it ranks as one of the nation's 30 best teams) continues to grow. The Vols held their spots in fewest yards penalized per game and kickoff return yardage defense, in which they're a top ten team, and they added passes intercepted, turnovers gained, and turnover margin.

Categories In Which Tennessee
Is In The Top Quarter
Category W11 W10 W9
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 10th 10th 11th
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 8th 8th 21st
Passes Intercepted 17th    
Turnovers Gained 24th    
Turnover Margin 30th    


UT also added two players onto the list of guys who rank in the top 50 of any particular category. Denarius Moore cracks the top 50, although just barely, in total receiving yards, and Prentiss Waggner hits 46th in interceptions.

Player Ranking Stat
Prentiss Waggner 8th Fumbles Recovered
Chad Cunningham 40th Punting
Marsalis Teague 33rd Passes Defended
Prentiss Waggner 46th Interceptions
Tauren Poole 47th Rushing
Denarius Moore 50th Total Receiving Yards


The Volunteers also made some headway on their to-do list. The improvement on Things Tennessee Still Does Not Do Well List, after the jump.

Categories In Which Tennessee
Is (Or Was) In The Bottom Quarter

Category W11 W10 W9 W8 Better?
Pass Sacks Allowed 115th 114th 118th 106th N
Tackles for Loss Allowed 115th 111th 116th 102nd N
Offense Fourth Down Efficiency 110th 108th 108th 114th N
Punt Returns 110th 93rd 108th 104th N
Red Zone Efficiency 106th 108th 118th 116th Y
First Downs 99th 101st 108th 111th Y
Kickoff Returns 97th 101st 102nd 101st Y
Rushing Offense 97th 97th 96th 91st N
Offense Third Down Efficiency 95th 101st 110th 115th Y
Time of Possession 89th 96th 95th 104th Y
Pass Defense 77th 91st 90th 95th Y
Pass Sacks   81st 98th 106th  
Scoring Defense   80th 93rd -  
Scoring Offense   78th 93rd 94th  
Total Offense   78th 90th 95th  
Turnover Margin   56th 94th -  
Turnovers Gained   52nd 91st -  
Passing Efficiency   51st - 92nd  


Last week, UT got out of the bottom quarter in the nation in seven different categories. I've left them here for the sake of posterity. I didn't record the rankings, but would have if they'd have fallen back into the bottom quarter. So we're still fine on those. Relatively speaking, of course.

This week, we add two more categories to that list: the ever-controversial time of possession, and the not-controversial-at-all pass defense, which the Big Orange improved all the way from 91st to 77th. Woo for those guys. We also saw at least marginal improvement in four other categories: offensive third down efficiency, kickoff returns, first, downs, and red zone efficiency.

That leaves five categories that either aren't getting better or are getting worse. Not getting better are pass sacks allowed and rushing offense, and getting worse are tackles for loss allowed, offensive fourth down efficiency, and punt returns. With the exception of punt returns, which is mostly a matter of simply finding someone who will catch the ball and not drop it, all of that is offensive line stuff.