Tennessee Vols statistical ranking trends – Comparing Heupel’s first two years to now

The first couple of weeks of a college football season, you’re pretty much just guessing what’s in the box. You don’t begin to actually know until you have two or three games in the books. Even then, the picture is a bit murky and continues to change as the season progresses.

So what do we actually have, right now, compared to the last couple of years? I wanted to know, so I dusted off our old color-coded look at the Vols’ national rankings in each of the official NCAA stat categories.

Offense

If the table above doesn’t display well, try using this link.

The run game on offense appears to be about the same as the season-long numbers from last year, but the passing game is waaaaay off and dragging down the overall offensive numbers. That doesn’t really tell us anything that our eyeballs haven’t. The odd thing, though, is that total passing yards isn’t that far off that of Heupel’s first season. And yet that 2021 team was still able to score points at Heupel’s usual clip. A slightly better run game, better efficiency on first and third downs, and a huge disparity in passing yards per completion seem to explain.

Defense

If the table above doesn’t display well, try using this link.

Is the defense actually better? It looks like yeah, mostly. The pass defense was a glaring problem the last couple of years and was probably the offseason focus this summer. But so far, it looks like maybe we’ve robbed the run defense a bit to shore up the pass defense. It doesn’t appear to be a one-for-one trade, though, as the gains against the pass are greater than the losses against the run.

Special Teams

If the table above doesn’t display well, try using this link.

The team has stepped backward on punt and kickoff return defense, and the punting game is, so far, no better than last year.

Turnovers and Penalties

If the table above doesn’t display well, try using this link.

So this is interesting. Two seasons and three games in, it’s looking like Heupel’s teams are just generally terrible at penalties. I would not have guessed that of a team regularly trotting out one of the nation’s top offenses. Perhaps seeing a breakdown of offensive and defensive penalties would shed some light on that. But it’s both good news and bad news. Bad news, because you don’t want to hamstring yourself, especially in crucial games against good teams. Good news, because penalties don’t seem to be the main problem for this squad so far.

The team is suffering a bit forcing turnovers.

5 2 votes
Article Rating
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sam Hensley
Sam Hensley
5 months ago

Joel is on fire!

Harley
Harley
5 months ago

Yep… I am going to chalk these stats as too early to really tell. I look forward to seeing them following UTSA and SC. Go Vols!

Jayyyy
Jayyyy
4 months ago

Awesome seeing this chart for the first time this year!