Hendon Hooker & Tennessee’s Record Book: Present and Future

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Sundays are for good news:

With that, the Vols are a win in the Music City Bowl away from one of the most enjoyable off-seasons we’ve seen around here in the post-Fulmer era.

One way to quantify what Hendon Hooker’s return is worth? The records he has a chance to set or approach in Nashville, despite only starting 10 of Tennessee’s 12 regular season games. There’s plenty to add to in 2022…but this is a pretty good start:

(thanks, as always, to Tennessee’s media guide, SportSource Analytics, and Sports Reference)

Single Season Tennessee Records

Yards Per Attempt

  • Hooker: 9.8
  • Current Record: Peyton Manning 1996 (8.7)

Something would have to go spectacularly wrong for Hooker not to get this one. In the last three decades, only two Vol quarterbacks ended the year with more than 8.5 yards per passing attempt: Peyton Manning in 1996 (8.7), and Erik Ainge in 2006 (8.6). Hooker is rocking 9.8 on 261 passing attempts. That’s tied for third in the nation, and tied for first (with C.J. Stroud) among QBs with more than 250 passing attempts.

Completion Percentage

  • Hooker: 69%
  • Current Record: Erik Ainge 2006 (67%)

Jarrett Guarantano had a shot at this number headed into the final two games of the 2018 season…and it did not go well. But Hooker can stay atop this leaderboard with another solid performance against Purdue. His lowest total of the year was actually his last outing (10-of-18, 55.6%). But the one time his attempts had to go way up against Georgia (37; his second-highest on the year was 28 at Alabama), Hooker still completed 64.9% of his passes against the Bulldogs.

Interception Percentage (200+ attempts)

  • Hooker: 1.15%
  • Current Record: Peyton Manning 1995 (1.05%)

This is the most impressive one to me. Manning’s number is the SEC record among quarterbacks with 300+ passing attempts. Hooker would need to throw it 39 times to get there, which seems unlikely, but again, he only started 10 games. Manning threw four interceptions on 380 passes. If Hooker doesn’t throw a pick against Purdue, he needs 24 passes to tie Manning, 25 to surpass him.

Appearances on Top X Lists

Passing Touchdowns

  • Hooker: 26, currently 7th

If Hooker throws a touchdown pass in the Music City Bowl, he’ll tie Casey Clausen ’03, Jonathan Crompton ’09, and Josh Dobbs ’16 for fourth on Tennessee’s single-season list with 27. There’s a jump from there, but if Hooker goes wild and throws four touchdown passes to get to 30, he’ll become just the fourth Vol QB to do so in a single season: Peyton Manning ’97 (36), Tyler Bray ’12 (34), and Erik Ainge ’07 (31).

Passing Yards

  • Hooker: 2,567, currently 12th

He needs 233 yards through the air for a Top 10 season at UT. In doing so, he would pass the greatest single seasons from Andy Kelly (1991) and Jonathan Crompton (2009). He’s already passed the best individual seasons from Heath Shuler (1993) and Tee Martin (1999). If you want to really feel old and see how football has changed:

  • Heath Shuler 1993: 184-of-285 (64.6%) for 2,354 yards (8.3 ypa), 25 TDs, 8 INTs, plus 76 rushing yards and 3 TDs. Vols averaged 42 points per game.
  • Hendon Hooker 2021: 180-of-261 (69%) for 2,567 yards (9.8 ypa), 26 TDs, 3 INTs, plus 561 rushing yards and 5 TDs. Vols average 39 points per game.

Shuler was the Heisman runner-up in 1993.

Rushing Yards by a QB

  • Hooker: 561, currently 4th

He’s not going to get Josh Dobbs’ record from 2016 (831). But if Hooker runs for 110 yards, he’ll pass Dobbs’ 2015 season for second place on this list. And again, in just 10 games started going into the bowl. Dobbs ran for 64 yards per game in 2016, and was only sacked 25 times. Hooker is at 51 yards per game in his 10 starts plus Pittsburgh, but Tennessee quarterbacks have been sacked 42 times this year.

There’s a whole list he can go after in 2022, at Tennessee and beyond. Most notably, there are only four 3,000 yard seasons at Tennessee: two for Manning, one for Bray, and one for Ainge.

But he’s already off to a sensational start. Pay it off in Nashville, and there will be lots and lots of word count on Hendon Hooker for the next eight months.

Go Vols.

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Isaac Bishop
Isaac Bishop
1 month ago

Wow I didn’t know that Hooker was in contention for so many records. It’s huge that we get him back for another year.

Mind if we play the hypothetical game?

Do you think Hooker will be the number two QB in the SEC heading into next year and will that mean he will have serious potential of being in the Heisman conversation?

Also, Hooker gets a lot comparison with Dobbs. Do you think he will have a better (super) senior year than Dobb’s senior season?