Since we only have a week of football under our belts, the only thing we can do right now for comparison's sake is look at what teams did last year versus what they did this year. So with that in mind, let's take a look at how Tennessee did against UAB last year and Western Kentucky this year.
I don't mean to suggest that UAB and WKU are on the same level, because UAB is a better team all around. Tennessee simply didn't play anyone as bad as WKU last year, and the UAB game was Tennessee's best all around. That's why I chose it as the comparison point.
As with previous comparisons, sack yardage has been taken out of the rushing totals.
|CATEGORY||vs. UAB||vs. WKU|
|Yds. per Pass||8.5||8.7|
|Yds. Per Rush||6.9||8.6|
|Time of Poss.||31:14||32:59|
|Sacks All.||1 (-9 yards)||0|
Tennessee's offense did step it up, gaining a hundred more yards and going without a sack. Anything less against WKU though would have been a disappointment. Now, for all the cheering over Jonathan Crompton's passing versus the Hilltoppers, it was nothing that he (and Nick Stephens) didn't do last year against UAB. The yardage is basically the same, the yards per pass is the same, and he threw two interceptions against both opponents.
Look at Crompton's personal numbers. Against UAB: 19/31, 240 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 7.7 yards per pass. Against WKU: 21/28, 233 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT, 8.3 yards per pass. He had a higher completion percentage, more touchdowns, and a half yard more per pass. That honestly doesn't impress me much because of how bad WKU is even in relation to UAB and because of the tremendous run support.
The real revelation in this game wasn't so much Crompton's play, though it was good to see him not in a perpetual state of confusion, but the rushing game. The zone blocking scheme and the large stable of talented backs made the Vol offense a terror versus WKU. I said this in the preseason and I'll say it again now. Tennessee's best bet for offensive success is to lean on the rushing game.
|CATEGORY||vs. UAB||vs. WKU|
|Yds. per Pass||4.9||3.1|
|Yds. Per Rush||4.6||3.1|
|Time of Poss.||28:46||27:01|
|Sacks For||1 (-7 yards)||5 (-41 yards)|
There's not really much to say. The defense is still very good, just like everyone thought, and WKU doesn't have anything on offense resembling the quality of UAB's Joe Webb. This side of the game was always going to be ugly, and the numbers bear that out.
Tennessee's performance was exactly as it should have been. The Vols blew out a vastly inferior opponent by a large margin. The improvement in the running game was very evident, but the numbers don't yet support a revolution in the passing game. UCLA isn't a great team, but the Bruins will at least provide a lot stiffer test tomorrow than WKU did last week. I consider Tennessee a cautious "buy" at this point, but a bad game tomorrow might easily put them back as a "hold" for now.