Sept. 23, 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, a big return, building on career records and great success against new opponents.
First Down: 62 - Yards Covered by Devaun Swafford's Interception Return
Every player remembers the first big play they make on a college football field, but Devaun Swafford's has a memory that tops most. His 62-yard interception return for a touchdown gave Tennessee a 7-0 lead. The play was the longest for the Volunteers to date in the 2013 season, surpassing Devrin Young's 58-yard kickoff return against Austin Peay.
Swafford became the first UT player to return an interception for a touchdown against Florida since Eric Berry returned a Tim Tebow pass 96 yards in 2007. Berry was also a true freshman when he accomplished feat, and also made his play in the Swamp, scoring in the same endzone as Swafford did on Saturday.
The interception was the first against Florida for a Tennessee player since Berry picked off a pass against the Gators in 2009. The last three INTs against UF have all come in Gainesville, Berry's in 2007 and 2009 and Swafford's Saturday. The last Vol to intercept a pass against Florida at home was Jonathan Wade in 2006.
Swafford and the Vol defensive backs will have to wait a little longer to try and change that stat next season, as Tennessee and Florida will not play until Oct. 4, the first time since 2001 the teams will not meet in September. The 2001 game was moved during the season due to the Sept. 11 attacks. The last time the teams were scheduled to play outside of September was 1991.
Second Down: 75 - Receiving Yards for Pig Howard
Howard had statistically his finest game in the Orange and White against the Gators, recording career-highs in yards and catches. The 75 yards was not only Howard's career high, but was also a season high for the Tennessee receiving corps, besting the previous high of 57 by Johnathon Johnson against Western Kentucky.
Howard's four receptions marked his career high and tied Rajion Neal at Oregon for a season high for a Vol.
The 18-yard touchdown catch he made in the 4th quarter marked the longest TD catch of his career, surpassing the 16-yard grab he made against Missouri in 2012.
Third Down: Quick Hits
3 - Sacks allowed by Tennessee in 2013, tied with South Carolina and Arkansas for fewest in the SEC. The Razorbacks, like the Volunteers, have achieved the mark in four games, while South Carolina has done it over three games.
8 - Interceptions on the season, good for second in the SEC behind Missouri's nine and fifth in the country. UT has intercepted a pass in three of four games on the year and returned three for touchdowns.
5 - Third down conversions for Tennessee in 13 attempts. Entering the UT game, Florida had allowed just two third down conversions in two games.
4 - Games this season, out of four that Tennessee has scored the game's initial touchdown. Swafford's pick-six extended the streak to start the season. Western Kentucky notched a field goal on its opening possession Sept. 7, the only time this season UT has failed to score first.
10 - A.J. Johnson tackles, his first double-digit tackle game in 2013, 14th as a Vol.
11 - Tackles for Brian Randolph, one off his career-high 12 achieved against Kentucky in 2011.
Fourth Down: A Look Ahead
8 - All time wins on Sept. 28, including three straight, dating back to 1985 against #1 Auburn. The Vols defeated the Tigers again on 9/28 in 1991 and beat Rutgers on the date in 2002.
10 - Consecutive home non-conference wins, a streak that began with a win over a team from Alabama, 32-29 over UAB in 2010, and will be put on the line Saturday when South Alabama comes to Neyland Stadium and it's once again Football Time in Tennessee!
14 - Wins since 2000 over opponents in the initial meeting between the schools, as UT and South Alabama meet for the first time Saturday. Since 2000, UT has lost the first game against an opposing school just three times, Kansas State in the 2001 Cotton Bowl, Oregon in 2010 and Missouri in 2012. Against the 17 "new" opponents since 2000, UT is 14-3.