Kneauxing the Enemy
Record 4-6, 0-6 in SEC
The Purple and Gold visit Rocky Top Saturday to play a Tennessee team winless in SEC play. The last time the Vols were winless in league play, going into November, was the 2012 season.
Since their first game against Georgia Tech, Tennessee has had at least 11 changes to their starting lineup due to injuries, lack of performance, and perhaps other reasons. The only constant for the Vols in 2017 has been change.
Tennessee is fifth in the nation for allowing the fewest yards in passing. The Vols allow 157.6 yards per game through the air. A reason for this may be Tennessee has a good secondary. However, it could be, since the Vols allow 256.9 yards rushing per game, teams do not have to pass much against them.
In their recent 50-17 loss to Missouri, a team with a 5-5 record, the Tennessee defense allowed 659 yards of total offense, 433 on the ground. They gave up fewer yards rushing to Georgia, 294, and 272 to Alabama. In their season opener, the Vols allowed 535 yards rushing to Georgia Tech.
The Tennessee defense leads the SEC in tackles with 754, and it should, having to chase down a multitude of offensive players. Otherwise, the Vols are at, or near the bottom, in nearly every offensive and defensive team statistic in SEC play.
Sophomore linebacker Daniel Bituli leads the team in tackles with 70, 31 solos. Sophomore defensive back Nigel Warrior is second on the team in stops with 69 total and 34 unassisted. Senior middle linebacker Colton Jumper has 4.5 sacks on the season.
Tennessee has rushed for 1316 yards for the campaign, an average of 131.6 yards per contest. Junior John Kelly is the leading rusher on the team with 711 yards. He averages 79 yards rushing per game.
The leading pass receiver is sophomore Brandon Johnson who has only 350 yards receiving on the season.
Tennessee has played three quarterbacks this season. The two who have played the most are junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano. Neither have been consistently effective. Dormady has thrown for six touchdowns and six interceptions.
The Tennessee offensive line has allowed 30 sacks on the season, one of the worst totals at the major college level.
Prior to this year, the Volunteers posted 9-4 records during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Butch Jones, the recently deposed head coach, has recruited well. So, whether it be injuries, or bad player or coaching performances, there is some talent in the Vol locker room. In addition, as bad as the season has been for Tennessee, two wins in their final two games makes them bowl eligible. This is something they will be thinking about Saturday, and hopefully that fact will not be lost on the Purple and Gold.