When you compare Tennessee’s national rankings in all of the major NCAA stat categories for this year to this time last year, you see that the defense has improved, especially in some of the most important categories. On offense, the passing game is more reliable and the run game is slightly better than this time last year. And you might be surprised to find that the turnover numbers were basically just as bad after the Georgia game in 2017 as they have been so far in 2018.
Bottom line here, I think, is that if you compare After Georgia 2018 to After Georgia 2017, you see a lot more green this year. The passing game, while still not exactly jet-propelled, is at least fairly safe and efficient. Most everything else is basically about the same as last year at this time, except that Rushing Offense and Red Zone Offense are slightly improved.
This time last year, the only green for the defense came in a couple of quirky categories. Passing Yards Allowed looked great, but many would argue it was due to the run defense being so bad that no opponent in their right mind would ever choose to throw it against the Vols. Fourth down conversions are likely a very small sample set.
Aside from that, most things are much better so far this year for Tennessee, including the all-important categories of Rushing Defense, 3rd Down Defense, and First Downs Defense. There are still some things that need fixing and still a lot of room for improvement everywhere, but it’s beginning to look like things are actually getting better on this side of the ball.
The return game has fallen off since last season, especially for punts.
Turnovers and Penalties
I was a bit surprised to find that this isn’t really all that much different from this time last year. The turnover luck is terrible, but it was bad last year, too.