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Tennessee Volunteers statistical rankings after Georgia

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How are the Vols doing in the national statistical rankings now that they've played a third of their schedule against real competition?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

And just like that, we're a third of the way through the season. With two mid-majors and two powerhouses on the road on the resume, how are the Vols shaping up in the statistical rankings?

What Tennessee is doing well

This week may mark the first time since we've been keeping tabs on this stuff (2011) that the team has been first in the nation in a statistic that matters after they've hit some real meat in the schedule. They've been first (or likely tied for first) in things like turnovers and 4th down conversion percentage early in seasons likely because of small sample sets. And they were first several games into the schedule last year in Passes Intercepted thanks to the Western Kentucky game. But other than that, they really haven't been first in an important category in a long time, and the fact that it's 3rd Down Conversion Percentage Defense is a most welcome surprise.

In addition to that, there hasn't been this much green in this table after this kind of schedule in a long time, either. As I said before, you wouldn't expect such a young team to be as disciplined (as measured by penalty stats) as this one is, especially with two games on the road against teams like this year's Oklahoma and Georgia. A couple of other defensive categories -- First Downs Defense (which is no doubt tied to 3rd Down Defense), Team Tackles for Loss, and Passing Yards Allowed -- are new arrivals to the Top 30 table. The Tennessee defense is not only improving, they're becoming very good.

Categories in which Tennessee is in the Top 30
Category 2011 2012 2013

Utah St.

Ark. St. OK GA
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 57 50 91 16 13 3 1
Blocked Kicks Allowed 1
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 51 67 21 43 11 3 4
Fewest Penalty Yards 5
Fewest Penalties 6
Fewest Penalties Per Game 56 92 26 56 15 6 9
Team Tackles for Loss 67 48 90 47 21 36 20
Blocked Kicks 21
First Downs Defense 18 86 45 14 21 41 24
Passing Yards Allowed 12 111 27 31 30 45 28
New Arrivals: Team Tackles for Loss, First Downs Defense, Passing Yards Allowed
The Dearly Departed: Time of Possession, Punt Return Defense, Fumbles Recovered, Fumbles Lost.

Where Tennessee needs major improvement

No new arrivals in the Bottom 30 this week, which is another good sign. Two categories -- Team Passing Efficiency and Total Offense -- have clawed their way out. There's still a lot of cause for concern here with the types of things Tennessee is still doing particularly poorly, but mostly it's on the offensive line, which shouldn't be all that surprising. Watch for Rushing Offense to make it back out of this group this week.

Categories in which Tennessee is in the Bottom 30
Category 2011 2012 2013 Utah St. Ark. St. OK GA
Rushing Offense 116 61 44 91 88 94 97
Sacks Allowed 40 5 21 65 66 109 107
Tackles for Loss Allowed 38 9 37 48 41 98 109
Passing Yards per Completion 115 87 93 103 110
Red Zone Defense 47 115 11 1 88 101 114
4th Down Conversion Pct 91 80 76 62 89 106 116
Recently checked in to Hell's Hotel: No new arrivals. Yay!
Back in the Doghouse: None.
Just Escaped:
Team Passing Efficiency, Total Offense.

THE BIG FAT MIDDLE

And here's the rest, for tracking purposes. I love how so much of the red from 2013 is now yellow or green, and a lot of it isn't just in a new category, it's a loooong way from where it was in 2013.

Categories in which Tennessee is in the Middle of the Rankings
Category 2011 2012 2013 Utah St. Ark. St. OK GA
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 58 21 25 35 32
Passes Intercepted 86 56 40 10 37 33 36
Time of Possession 37 116 91 44 22 27 38
Turnover Margin 59 88 54 6 19 35 39
Red Zone Offense 58 29 100 1 44 55 39
Punt Return Defense 85 67 92 85 60 27 40
Passes Had Intercepted 63 83 107 1 34 76 43
Turnovers Gained 91 95 35 11 29 31 43
Turnovers Lost 20 58 87 1 13 52 44
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense 48 86 117 1 48 31 48
Kickoff Returns 41 80 20 84 68 63 48
Total Defense 28 107 83 22 29 42 49
Fumbles Recovered 71 113 29 19 22 22 51
Kickoff Return Defense 7 47 118 62 76 73 54
Passing Offense 50 15 109 44 54 68 54
Punt Returns 61 22 51 84 14 34 54
Fumbles Lost 6 28 24 1 1 23 55
Scoring Defense 36 104 78 10 21 38 57
3rd Down Conversion Pct 56 81 92 57 8 63 62
Team Sacks 100 98 99 73 58 78 67
Completion Percentage 71
Net Punting 104 52 28 70 76 78 72
Scoring Offense 106 22 94 41 48 83 74
Rushing Defense 69 85 100 39 49 48 78
Team Passing Efficiency 69 31 111 42 61 98 83
First Downs Offense 98 20 101 47 48 53 84
Total Offense 104 18 102 79 81 93 89

Players in the Top 30

Player Stat 2011 2012 2013 Utah St. Ark. St. OK GA
A.J. Johnson Total Tackles 4 11
A.J. Johnson Solo Tackles 14
Jalen Reeves-Maybin Tackles For Loss 21
Justin Worley Completions Per Game 22 29 22
Cameron Sutton Fumbles Recovered 11 14
Todd Kelly, Jr. Fumbles Recovered 4 14
Jalen Reeves-Maybin Fumbles Recovered 14
Todd Kelly, Jr. Fumbles Recovered 11
Justin Worley Passing TDs 15
Justin Worley Points Responsible For 16
Marquez North Receiving TDs 17
Justin Worley Points Responsible For Per Game 18
A.J. Johnson Passed Defended 17 20
Aaron Medley Field Goals Per Game 26
Owen Williams Sacks 29
A.J. Johnson Forced Fumbles 3
A.J. Johnson Interceptions 4
Cameron Sutton Interceptions 4
Justin Worley Completion Percentage 16
Dontavis Sapp Fumbles Recovered 9
Michael Palardy Punting 11
Devaun Swafford Punt Return TDs 14
Byron Moore Interceptions 13
Cordarrelle Patterson Kickoff Returns 14
Cordarrelle Patterson All-Purpose Runners 16
Tyler Bray Total Offense 19
Justin Hunter Receiving Yards Per Game 22
Devrin Young Punt Returns 28
Tyler Bray Passing Efficiency 29
Austin Johnson Interceptions 23