Four Downs: USA Weekend by the Numbers

Sept. 30, 2013

By Brian Rice

Each week, takes a look at the numbers from the weekend past and the weekend ahead in Four Downs. This week, a big day on the ground, a good start at home and local players succeeding at a high level.

First Down: 278 - Tennessee Rushing Yards

Well, it wasn't a season high, but there are several numbers inside that 278 that are quite significant. With the 315 yards on the ground in the season opener, this marked the first time since 1999 that a Tennessee team had rushed for over 250 yards in two games in a season. In that stretch, there were five seasons when UT didn't cross the 250-yard plateau all season, 2001, 02, 06, 11 and 12.

Prior to the season opener this season, UT had last rushed for 250+ yards in the first game of the 2010 season, when the Volunteers ran for 332 yards against UT-Martin.

Butch Jones' pushed his record when his teams rush for 150 yards in a game to 40-8, 3-1 at UT. Up that number to 200+ and Jones-coached teams 26-2, 3-0 at UT. Increase it again to 250+ and it's 16-1, 2-0.

Tennessee is a perfect 3-0 this season when outrushing its opponents. Since 2009, The Vols are 19-2 when gaining more yards on he ground than their opponents. The only losses in that stretch were Mississippi State in 2012 (213-142) and UCLA in 2009 (115-85).

More on the individual rushing performances with numbers on Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane coming on Third Down.



Second Down: 3-0 - Butch Jones' Home Record at Tennessee

3-0 at home might not seem like much, in the 92 years Tennessee has played at Shields-Watkins Field/Neyland Stadium, just four of the 15 Tennessee head coaches have started 3-0 at home.

Traveling backward chronologically, Phillip Fulmer started 9-0 at home, 2-0 as interim head coach in games officially credited to his record in 1992 and 7-0 in 1993, one of six perfect home records in his Tennessee tenure. Bill Battle started 7-0 in 1970 and the opener in 1971.

Robert Neyland started off 12-0 in 1926-27, before a tie against Vanderbilt in 1927 ended the streak. Neyland's first loss at home came in his 8th year on the job, when he had amassed a 48-0-2 home record before falling to Alabama in 1933. Neyland lost just 10 home games in 21 seasons at Tennessee. With that kind of home record, they probably should have named a stadium after him or given him a statue.

M.B. Banks started out 8-0 in the first eight games played on Shields-Watkins field in 1921-22.

Third Down: Quick Hits

169 - Rushing yards for Rajion Neal, a new career high. Neal's performance was the best for a Vol since Montario Hardesty ran for 179 against Kentucky in 2009. It was Neal's second 100-yard game of the season and fourth of his career, including his previous career-high of 151 against Akron last season.

53 - Yards covered on a second quarter run by Neal, a new career-long carry to give the Vols 1st-and-goal at the 7-yard line. Marlin Lane scored up the middle two plays later for a 24-7 UT lead.

54 - Yards covered by a Lane run in the first quarter, a new career-long scamper. The play set up 1st-and-goal at the 5-yard line and led to UT's initial TD two plays later.

2 - 50-yard runs on the day, as referenced above, the first time Tennessee has had two 50-yard runs in a game since Cedric Houston notched carries of 54 and 65 at South Carolina in 2004, like Saturday, neither went for a touchdown. The last time two different Vols had rushes of 50 or more yards in one game came against Kentucky in 2000, as when Travis Stephens went 80 yards and Travis Henry 53, each for a touchdown.

29 - Yards on Josh Smith's first-career TD reception in the second quarter.

4 - Touchdowns scored by true freshmen after Smith and A.J. Branisel caught TDs Saturday. Cameron Sutton and Devaun Swafford each returned interceptions for scores. The last time Tennessee had two true freshmen with touchdown receptions was at Memphis in 2010, when Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers each made TD grabs.

4 - Touchdowns scored by Tennessee natives in 2013, following Smith's grab. Devrin Young and Brendan Downs each had a TD catch against Austin Peay, Downs added another a week later against Western Kentucky. Swafford scored on an interception return against Florida. UT had nine TDs from home state players in 2012.

15 - Takeaways by the Volunteer defense in 2013. Tennessee has 11 interceptions, just one away from the season total in 2012. While they did not recover a fumble against USA, the Volunteers have forced four fumbles on the season, also one away from the total for all of 2012.

3 - Interceptions thrown by Tennessee against South Alabama, the most in a Volunteer win since Erik Ainge had three passes picked off at Kentucky in 2007.

4 - Sacks allowed by Tennessee in 2013, second in the Southeastern Confernece to Arkansas' three.

11 - Interceptions by the UT defense on the season, tied with Virginia Tech for most in the country. The number is tops in the SEC ahead of Missouri's 10. UT has intercepted a pass in four of five games on the year and returned three for touchdowns.

15 - Wins since 2000 over opponents in the initial meeting between the schools, as UT and South Alabama met 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 18 "new" opponents since 2000, UT is now 18-4.

11 - Consecutive home non-conference wins, a streak that dates back to 32-29 over UAB in 2010.

Fourth Down: A Look Ahead

11 - All time wins on Oct. 5, including four straight, dating back to a 52-0 win in 1968 over Rice. The last time UT played on Oct. 5, the Volunteers defeated Arkansas, 41-36 in six overtimes in 2002.

21 - Wins over Georgia. UT is 21-19-2 against the Bulldogs, 11-9-1 in Knoxville.

9 - Wins by the 1914 Volunteers, who wore gray jerseys, as Tennessee will on Saturday.

18 - Consecutive wins by ranked opponents over Tennessee, dating back to South Carolina in 2009, a streak UT will look to end on Saturday when Georgia comes to Neyland Stadium and it's once again Football Time in Tennessee!



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