One of the best indicators of progress for Tennessee's offense will be speed: how fast can the Vols get back to the line and run the next play? Last year UT was 36th nationally in pace; Saturday should be interesting because Bowling Green was third. The faster pace = better results argument found plenty of ground to stand on the last time we saw this team, as the Vols obliterated Iowa with 42 points in the game's first 2.5 quarters.
Of course, when your offense isn't productive playing fast can really put your defense in a bad situation. Both Tennessee and Bowling Green discovered this last year as well. Ole Miss ran 78 plays on a tired defense as the Vols simply kept punting it back to them. And if you think that's bad, Northern Illinois ran 100 plays on Bowling Green in a 51-17 win in the MAC Championship Game.
So both teams will be looking to drive more responsibly this year while maintaining or even increasing their speed. For Tennessee, you won't have to wait very long to see possible improvement: last year the Vols were often at their least productive on their first offensive series:
- Utah State: 3 plays, -3 yards, punt
- Arkansas State: 3 plays, 6 yards, punt
- at Oklahoma: 3 plays, -3 yards, punt
- at Georgia: 9 plays, 43 yards, field goal
- Florida: 3 plays, 7 yards, punt
- Chattanooga: 8 plays, 38 yards, touchdown
- at Ole Miss: 5 plays, 26 yards, punt
- Alabama: 6 plays, 21 yards, punt
- at South Carolina: 4 plays, 6 yards, punt
- Kentucky: 5 plays, 73 yards, touchdown
- Missouri: 3 plays, 0 yards, punt
- at Vanderbilt: 4 plays, 35 yards, punt
- vs Iowa: 9 plays, 80 yards, touchdown