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Opponent Offense Preview: THEM

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Not as bad as their record

Tennessee v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Tennessee is 6-5 overall and 4-3 in conference, making them third in the east. Being third in the east this year is kind of like being third in a presidential election. It means you have no shot at winning, but you might have enough effect on the race to mess it up for someone else.

After opening the season with two consecutive losses, one to Georgia State and a hangover loss to BYU in 2OT, the only losses UT has sufferred are to top ten teams. That means, the Vaawwwlllss are beating the teams they should and not losing to the teams they shouldn’t. It means that Pruitt, a first time head coach in his second year and the 50-11th choice for the head coaching job has grown to figure it out.

In conference games, they have scored 18.8 points per game. In conference games not against top ten teams, they have scored 25 points per game. They are averaging 360 yards per game, which is good for 103rd in the country. Yikes. But if you adjust for it their last four games, which are against more comparable opponents, and ones they have all won, then you get 402 yards per game. Against season averages that puts them at 70th.

In general, they run a shotgun power type offense. If they go under center, it is almost always a run. They want to key off the run game and search for matchups with their two big wide outs. They will leave their TE’s in to help protect and give the Jarrett Guaranatno time to throw. He will tuck and scramble, too. Though not a speedster, he is quick enough and savvy enough to pick up opportunistic yards.

They are led by Guarantano in the passing game. He has 128 completions for 1,817 yards at a clip just south of 62%. He’s average eight yards per attempt, but 14 yards per attempt. Which is 16th in the nation (sidenote: the passing yards per completion stat is dominated by triple option teams because they pass so little. So adjusting for those teams, he’s 13th.)He has thrown 15 touchdowns and five interceptions and been sacked 14 times.

Their top WR is Jauan Jennings who has caught 55 passes for 886 yards. He is responsible for eight touchdowns. Marquez Callaway has 28 catches for 597 yards. He is impressive because he is averaging over 21 yards per catch. He has six TD’s on the year. Jennings is a big, physical receiver at 6’3” 208lbs but he’s not a blazer. Calloway is similarly built at 6’2” 204lbs

On the ground, Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan carry the ball the most. Chadler has 123 carries while Jordan has 91. They have 620 and 384 yards respectively. Together they have accounted for four touchdowns. It seems as if in the red zone, the Vols prefer targeting their WR’s than giving it to their backs.

Overall, Tennessee is competent on offense. They know where they will win their matchups and try to leverage them throughout the game. There isn’t much of a back up plan if they can’t run the ball effectively to set up the pass. Guarantano dropping back to throw it often is not their idea of a good time. Interesting note about their scheme, they are middle of the road in time of possession, snapping it around 10-12 on the playclock. When overmatched, they slow it down, but when they see an advantage they will go tempo to maintain it.

To me, that shows an offense that knows its strengths and weaknesses. Just think, they are two possessions from being 8-3 with their only losses to three of the best teams in the nation.