Sep 9, 2013
By Brian Rice
Each week, UTSports.com takes a look at the numbers from the weekend past and the weekend ahead in Four Downs. This week, nearly five very productive minutes, a lot of points and interceptions-a-plenty.
First Down: 4:46 - Game Time Needed for 31 UT Points
The Tennessee defense wasn't exactly on the ropes in the first quarter Saturday, but after Western Kentucky's opening drive for a field goal ate up nearly half of the quarter and the UT offense picked up just 12 yards in 1:55 on its opening drive, the unit definitely felt the need to make something happen. And did the Volunteers ever make something happen.
Justin Coleman picked a great time to record his first interception in the Orange & White, taking a deflected pass out of the air and returning it for a touchdown with 4:24 left in the quarter. After a 3-yard run to start the next WKU possession, freshman Cameron Sutton was there to step in front of it for his first-career interception and, 36 yards later, his first-career touchdown with 3:27 left in the opening period.
Dontavis Sapp forced and recovered a fumble on the next play from scrimmage, leading to a Michael Palardy field goal and a 17-3 UT lead at the 1:20 mark. WKU's next play was another fumble, forced by Brent Brewer and recovered by Max Arnold. The Tennessee offense needed just two Rajion Neal runs covering 12 yards to go up 24-3 with 0:31 left. A play later, it was Brewer stretched out to intercept a pass just before it hit the turf, giving UT possession again with 0:17 left in the opening quarter. UT needed just three plays before Marlin Lane bowled into the end zone for another touchdown and a 31-3 lead with 14:38 in the second quarter.
UT forced five turnovers in six plays. Four of those turnovers came on consecutive plays, the first time in NCAA history a team has forced turnovers on four consecutive defensive plays.
Back to the time for a moment. As mentioned above, WKU's opening possession that covered 55 yards and resulted in a field goal lasted nearly half a quarter - 7:05, to be exact. So in 2:19 less of clock time, UT scored 31 points and outgained the Hilltoppers by a yard, 56-55.
Second Down: 97 - Points Scored Over Two Games
Tennessee's 97 points scored over the first two games of the year tied the 1996 squad for the most points scored over the first two games in a season since 1915. It marks the eighth time a Tennessee offense has scored 90+ points over the first two games of the season. But 97 points isn't the record. In fact, it isn't even close.
Four of Z. G. Clevenger's five Tennessee teams topped 100 points over their first two games from 1911-1915, with only that initial team in 1911 failing to reach the mark. The 1913 team holds the all-time record for points over the first two games with 153. The 1913 Vols opened the year with a 58-0 win over Carson-Newman and followed it up with a 95-0 blanking of Athens.
Two of Clevenger's teams surpassed 97 points in their openers alone. The 1912 Volunteers opened the year with a 101-0 win over King, while the 1915 team beat Carson-Newman by the same 101-0 score.
15 Tennessee teams (1905, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1920, 1922, 1928, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2011, 2012 and 2013) have scored over 80 points in their first two games, all in wins. This season marks the first time it has happened in three consecutive years since that Clevenger run from 1912-15.
26 total teams have scored over 70 points in their first two games. Only twice, in 2007 and 2009, was one of those games a loss.
Third Down: Quick Hits
2 - Penalties against the Vols on Saturday, the first flags against UT on the season, and the fewest on the season in the NCAA.
2 - Brendan Downs catches on the season, one in each game, both for touchdowns.
3 - Rushing touchdowns for Rajion Neal, who is the first Vol since Montario Hardesty in 2009's win over Kentucky to rush for three TDs in a game. It was the third multi-TD game of Neal's career, after scoring two each against Georgia and Georgia state in 2012. Neal has four touchdowns on the season, just one away from his career high, reached last season.
5 - Interceptions against Western Kentucky, the most for a UT team since recording five at Kentucky in 1999.
7 - Interceptions on the season, after tallying two interceptions in the opener against Austin Peay. The total is already more than half the total of 12 recorded in the entire 2012 season. The back-to-back multi-INT games equals the total of two from last season, when the Vols picked off four passes in the opener against North Carolina State and recorded three more picks against Akron.
7 - Wins by Vol teams over the weekend. Tennessee football, soccer and volleyball combined to go 7-0 Thursday-Sunday, with five of those wins coming away from Knoxville. Through three weeks of competition, the three teams are 13-2.
9 - Total turnovers forced by Tennessee in two games, more than half of the 17 forced in the entire 2012 season. UT currently leads the NCAA in turnovers forced.
10 - Tackles for LaDarrell McNeil, tying a career-high set twice in 2012, against Troy and Kentucky.
36 - Yards covered on Cameron Sutton's pick-six moments later, marking the first time Tennessee had returned two interceptions for a touchdown since 2010 against Ole Miss. Sutton became the first true freshman to return an INT for six points since Eric Berry returned a Tim Tebow interception 96 yards for the TD.
97 - Rushing yards for Marlin Lane, who narrowly missed on his third 100-yard rushing game.
Fourth Down: A Look Ahead
0 - Games played by Tennessee in the state of Oregon.
2 - The Vols have two all-time wins on the West Coast, winning at UCLA in Pasadena twice in 1989 and 1997. The last win on the left coast came on Sept. 6, 1997 as Peyton Manning threw for 341 yards.
3 - Consecutive 2-0 starts for the Volunteers, who will look to start 3-0 for the first time since 2003 as they take the field at Autzen Stadium on Saturday, when it will once again be Football Time in Tennessee!
7 - All-time wins for Tennessee against teams ranked #2 in the Associated Press Poll, as Oregon is this week. UT is 7-7-1 against #2 teams, the last game coming against Alabama in 2011. The last win over a #2 team came at Florida in 2001, 34-32.
17 - Wins over current members of the Pac-12 conference. UT is 17-14-4 against eight current Pac 12 schools, having never faced Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford and Washington.
28 - Wins for UT on ABC, who will televise the game Saturday. The Vols are 28-23-3 on ABC, and will make their first appearance on the network since a 2007 loss at California. The last UT win on ABC was a 10-6 win at Miami in 2003