clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

#OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE: Tracking Tennessee Football's Opportunity for Improvement

Just to develop good habits, here's our Week One installment of the #opportunityisnowhere post tracking the Volunteer football team's improvement and, ahem, areas of greatest opportunity. The numbers in Week One, especially in light of the facts that the rankings are compiled from a slate of mostly warm-up games and that we are comparing the Vols' first game in 2011 to the entire 2010 season, don't tell us very much at all really. The degree of meaning falls somewhere between a single iota and two of them.

But here we go anyway. First up are the statistical categories in which Tennessee earned itself a top quartile ranking this (last?) weekend.

Categories In Which Tennessee
Was In The Top Quartile in Week One


Fortune 120 1
Passing Efficiency   7
Red Zone Efficiency 104 T-7
Turnover Margin   T-9
Fumbles Recovered   T-10
Offense Third-down Efficiency   11
Kickoff Returns   12
Time of Possession 90 14
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 9 14
Turnovers Gained 23 T-15
Passing Offense 30 16
Punt Return Yardage Defense   T-19
Scoring Offense   27

Yeah, those turnover categories are real laughers and owe their existence to the dramatic swing in the Fortune category from last year to this year's first game because the Vols tempted Fate over and over again by putting the ball on the ground and in the other team's hands only to have none of it count against them. I don't really put the interceptions in this category, though, because at least one of those was directly attributable to a pass interference penalty that rightfully negated the play. Anyway, make all of that what you will. Me personally, I'm quite smitten with Offense Third-Down Efficiency, even if she leaves me for a reptile in week three.

There was also, as you'd expect early in the season, a whole lot of bunching going on. Tennessee was one of 57 teams without an interception, one of 55 teams without a fumble (HA), one of 27 teams without a turnover (HAHAHA), one of a slew of teams ranking in the top 21 for the right kind of interceptions, and one of 30 teams tying for first in defensive fourth-down efficiency.

This will all shake out as the season progresses, and you have to account for the opponent, but pretty much every team but Georgia, Boise State, LSU, and Oregon participated in calisthenics this (last?!) week, so it's okay to take some comfort that UT ranked fairly well after week one.

Let's take a look at the players who made the top 30 this (/angryface) week:

Player Ranking Stat
Tyler Bray 5 Passing Efficiency
Art Evans T-8 Interceptions
Justin Hunter 11 Receiving Yards Per Game
Justin Hunter 11 Total Receiving Yards
Tyler Bray 14 Passing Yards Per Game
Tyler Bray 14 Total Passing Yards
Tyler Bray T-19 Points Responsible For
Tyler Bray 29 Total Offense
Jacques Smith T-30 Tackles for Loss

Just to prove that Fate was on our side Saturday, Justin Hunter got his number. Twice.

Marline Lane was among a herd of folks tied at 25th in scoring. Anthony Anderson made the list of folks who recovered a fumble. Something you may find interesting is that for all of the wailing we've done about the rushing game, Tauren Poole ranked 35th in rushing.


So where are our greatestopportunitiesforimprovement? At the end of last season, this chart showed eight categories in which Tennessee was in the bottom quartile. So far, against Montana (but also against the rest of the FBS teams), we're in only one (Pass Sacks) and even then only barely. How much improvement? Behold, but be skeptical:

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

Category 2010 W1
Pass Sacks T-90
Pass Sacks Allowed 115 82
Tackles for Loss Allowed 113 42
Punt Returns 109 64
Rushing Offense 105 74
Red Zone Efficiency 104 73
Offense Fourth Down Efficiency 96 59
First Downs 92 66
Time of Possession 90 14

None of those are anything that will spontaneously cause cartwheels up and down The Strip, and it may not even be real evidence of improvement. Once again, the 2010 numbers are for an entire season against the entire schedule, and the Week One numbers are for a single game against an FCS opponent. But again again (again), the rankings are against every other FBS team, and most of them also front-loaded their schedules with ease-in games. So makeofitwhatyouwill. I say theglassishalffullofbbqandsunshine.

So what do y'all think? Can we draw any conclusions whatsoever about whether the team's any better than last year in any particular statistical category?