clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Statistical goals for the 2015 Tennessee Volunteers

New, 10 comments

Here's what to watch and cheer for out of Team 119.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

What specifically does Tennessee need to do this season to improve from last year? We've pored over last year's statistical rankings and come up with a few goals for Team 119.

  • Continue to maintain good penalty discipline. Imagine the frustration at being better at a lot of things and having it all erased by a sudden and unwelcome onslaught of stupid penalties?
  • Maintain the strength of pressure defense. This was undoubtedly the strength of last year's team, and it needs to not suffer from neglect as the team focuses on improving other areas.
  • Improve run defense. If the defense just adds this one thing to the mix, the Vols' defense can be elite.
  • Improve the line of scrimmage on offense and develop a deep passing game. There are a host of issues on offense, but it all starts with the offensive line. Improving that will make it a level playing field for the talented skill players in the rushing and passing game.

Here's a closer look at last year's stats that led to the above conclusions.

What Tennessee did well last year overall

Where Good Got Better. Good penalty discipline under Butch Jones is officially a pattern. The team did really well in the penalty categories in 2013 and then improved last year.

Team Strength. Let's call this "pressure defense." The team ranked in the Top 30 in Team Tackles for Loss, Team Sacks, Passing Yards Allowed, Team Passing Efficiency Defense, Passes Intercepted, and 3rd Down for What. If the Vols were able to get the other team into passing downs, said Other Team was in Much Trouble. If Curt Maggitt didn't get you, Derek Barnett did. If neither Maggitt nor Barnett got you, Cameron Sutton and the rest of the DBs did.

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

2014

Blocked Kicks Allowed

1

Blocked Punts Allowed 1
Red Zone Offense 58 29 100 5
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 51 67 21 6
Fewest Penalties Per Game 56 92 26 7
Fewest Penalty Yards 9
Punt Return Defense 85 67 92 11
Fewest Penalties 13
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 57 50 91 14
Kickoff Returns 41 80 20 14
Passes Intercepted 86 56 40 15
Team Tackles for Loss 67 48 90 21
Passing Yards Allowed 12 111 27 22
Kickoff Return Defense 7 47 118 23
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 58 24
4th Down Conversion Pct 91 80 76 26
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense 48 86 117 26
Team Sacks 100 98 99 29
New to 2014: Red Zone Offense, Punt Return Defense, 3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense, Team Tackles for Loss, Kickoff Return Defense, 4th Down Conversion Pct Defense, Team Sacks.

Where Tennessee needs major improvement in 2015

It's no secret, and the stat rankings only shine a light on what we already know to be true. The Vols need to hold the line of scrimmage on offense, and the team needs to develop a downfield passing game. I'm not sure what to make of that Red Zone Defense stat, unless it's the same run defense issue we'll discuss in the next section.

Categories in which Tennessee is 90th or below
Category 2011 2012 2013 2014
Passing Yards per Completion 115 116
Sacks Allowed 40 5 21 117
Tackles for Loss Allowed 38 9 37 122
Red Zone Defense 47 115 11 124
New to 2014: Sacks Allowed, Tackles for Loss Allowed, Red Zone Defense.
Stuff that got better from 2013 to 2014:
A whole bunch of offensive stat categories.

THE BIG FAT MIDDLE

Defense. The thing that is peculiar here is that Rushing Defense seems to be a drag on the rest of the defense. It was greatly improved from 2013 to 2014, but it still only finished the season at 65. If the Vols can shore up the inside of the defensive line (which we think they have done) and if the linebackers can not become a liability, run defense (and the entire defense with it) should improve even more this year.

Offense. Total Offense, Rushing Offense, Interceptions, Passing Offense, Scoring Offense. . . all need significant improvement. Last year, we spent most of the season attributing these deficiencies primarily to the all new offensive line. You can make an argument that these things were trending up as the season progressed last year, but there's still a long way to go.

Categories in which Tennessee is in the Middle of the Rankings
Category 2011 2012 2013 2014
Completion Percentage 32
First Downs Defense 18 86 45 33
Turnovers Gained 91 95 35 34
Scoring Defense 36 104 78 35
Net Punting 104 52 28 36
Total Defense 28 107 83 36
Fumbles Lost 6 28 24 37
Punt Returns 61 22 51 37
Time of Possession 37 116 91 51
Turnover Margin 59 88 54 53
First Downs Offense 98 20 101 54
Turnovers Lost 20 58 87 61
Scoring Offense 106 22 94 62
Rushing Defense 69 85 100 65
Blocked Kicks 70
Passing Offense 50 15 109 70
Team Passing Efficiency 69 31 111 70
3rd Down Conversion Pct 56 81 92 78
Fumbles Recovered 71 113 29 78
Passes Had Intercepted 63 83 107 84
Rushing Offense 116 61 44 89
Total Offense 104 18 102 90

Players in the Top 30

The amusing thing about the chart below is that it is full of defensive players in the 2014 column and full of offensive players in the 2012 column. Oh, to be in synch.

Player Stat 2011 2012 2013 2014
Derek Barnett Tackles For Loss 6
Cameron Sutton Punt Return TDs 11
Curt Maggitt Sacks 15
Aaron Medley Field Goals Per Game 17
A.J. Johnson Total Tackles 4 19
Derek Barnett Sacks 20
Cameron Sutton Passes Defended 24
A.J. Johnson Solo Tackles 25
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