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Tennessee and Advanced Stats

Now with 5-30% more proprietary formulas!

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In a continuation of his typical, excellent work with Football Study Hall, Bill C. has released an advanced stats profile for every team in the country. These will be updated every week, so you can check back and see how things are changing. The important one for our purposes, of course, is Tennessee. Okay, and maybe Florida.

They start with how each team has performed to date on the Five Factors and include opponent adjusted rankings for offense, defense, standard downs, passing downs, rushing, passing, performance by quarter, and more. And then there are individual stats for passers, runners, receivers, and defense. So yeah, it's a lot. Dive in. Oh yeah, and the glossary might help.

For those who don't have time to pore over this in detail, we'll hit some major points here. We only have three games worth of data, so keep the sample size in mind, but keep an eye on these as the season progresses.


  • (Sustainable) turnover margin. The Vols are 7th in turnover margin, but the stats show that they are actually getting slightly unlucky, as they are 1st in the nation in expected turnover margin.
  • Field position. 2nd in the country in average defensive starting field position. 5th in average offensive starting field position. Hooray turnover margin! And Trevor Daniel!
  • Passing down defense. 8th in the country in passing down success rate (that is, preventing the opponent from having a successful play). 5th in the country in (opponent-adjusted) defensive passing down S&P+ rankings.
  • First three quarters defense. 18th in the country in 1st quarter S&P+, 25th in the country in 2nd quarter S&P+, 14th in 3rd quarter S&P+. For three quarters, this is a top of the line defense.
  • 2nd down defense. 17th in the country in 2nd down S&P+. The defense is hanging out near 40th on 1st down (36th) and 3rd down (42nd), so it's a solid unit overall, but they've been the best on 2nd down so far this year.
  • Offensive explosiveness. Explosiveness measures how well you're doing at turning positive plays into big gainers. By this measure, Tennessee's offense is 112th in the country. And that's not adjusted for a schedule that includes Bowling Green and WCU. Yikes. That's real bad, y'all.
  • Passing offense. 105th in passing explosiveness, 101st in the (opponent-adjusted) S&P+ passing rankings. And passing offense is probably the major culprit for being 106th in passing down explosiveness.
  • Sack rate (on both sides of the ball). 108th on offense, 99th on defense (both opponent-adjusted). Where have you gone, Derek Barnett? And, for that matter, where have you gone, slippery Josh Dobbs?
  • Standard down explosiveness (on defense!). 104th in the country. The defense is great in passing downs, but they've given up some big plays on standard downs. The standard down success rate is still above average (so they don't give up too many positive plays on standard downs, although the positive plays the opponent gets are likely to be big gainers), but it's clearly passing downs where the defense has made its bones.
  • The 4th quarter. 103rd in offensive S&P+ in the 4th quarter, 101st in defensive S&P+ in the 4th quarter. Chalk this up to Oklahoma, since these rankings factor out garbage time.
  • Efficiency. After explosiveness (where the Vols have been awful), this is the most important factor in winning, and the Vols have been good-but-not-elite on both sides of the ball here, coming in 36th in offensive success rate and 34th in defensive success rate.
  • Finishing drives. In the only one of the five factors that hasn't been mentioned yet, the Vols are 41st in finishing drives on offense and 63rd on defense--where they allow far too many touchdowns in the red zone.
  • Rushing offense/defense. We've seen passing offense show up on the really bad side of the ledger and passing down defense on the good side (overall passing defense, which is a major factor in passing down defense, is 21st in S&P+, just missing my top 20 cutoff for inclusion in "highlights"), but where is the ground game? It's solid but not elite on both offense and defense. Both the offense and the defense have struggled with ground game explosiveness, but they're both top 40 in rushing success rate (25th on offense, 37th on defense) and top 40 in (opponent-adjusted) rushing S&P+ (33rd on offense, 32nd on defense).