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GAME 10: Vols Seek 13th Consecutive Victory Over Rebels
Series History: Tennessee owns a 43-18-1 advantage in the all-time series with Ole Miss and a 3-0 advantage in Oxford. The Rebels rotate onto the UT schedule for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. The two schools have not played since 2005.
Last Time Around: Tennessee defeated a David Cutcliffe-coached squad 21-17 in Oxford in 2004 and an Ed Orgeron coached team 27-10 in Knoxville in 2005.
Win Streaks: Tennessee has an active 12-game win streak over the Rebels dating to 1984. It is UT's second longest active win streak against an SEC opponent (Kentucky 24 games). In UT's 12 wins, only three have been decided by eight points or less.
Familiar Faces: Tennessee associate head coach/recruiting coordinator/defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was the head coach at Ole Miss from 2005-07. Wide receivers coach Frank Wilson coached running backs under Orgeron during his tenure in Oxford.
Unfamiliar Places: Of 11 SEC stadiums, Tennessee has played the fewest games in Ole Miss' Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Vols have made only three trips to Oxford all-time. UT has only been to Fayetteville, Ark., four times.
Finishing Strong: Since 1992 and the inception of divisional play in the SEC, the Vols are 58-10 (.853) in regular season games on or after November 1st and 44-5 (.897) vs. SEC opponents. Tennessee's league opponents in that span include Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Florida and LSU.
On Nov. 14: The Vols are 12-4 all-time on Nov. 14 and have won four-straight games on that date. Tennessee is also 3-2 vs. Ole Miss on Nov. 14.
A win would: A win over Ole Miss would move the Vols to .500 in Southeastern Conference play for the first time since the end of the 2007 regular season and give Tennessee its first three-game winning streak under new head coach Lane Kiffin. It would also mark Kiffin's first road win as a head coach.
A loss would: A loss would drop the Vols to .500 for the fifth time this season and snap UT's only win-streak of the season at two games.
Vol Network StadiumCast
The Vol Network's "StadiumCast" frequency for Tennessee's game versus the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium on Saturday will be 107.3 on the FM dial. Fans attending the game can tune into the Vol Network broadcast at the stadium by bringing a portable radio. The "Kickoff Call-In Show" begins coverage at 10:30 a.m. EASTERN / 9:30 a.m. CENTRAL on Saturday.
Also, for fans traveling to and from the game on Saturday, the AM signal of the Vol Network's radio affiliate in Memphis covers a good portion of Northern Mississippi (ESPN SportsRadio AM 680 / FM 92.9).
Vols Forcing Turnovers, Scoring Points
After forcing 12 turnovers in the season's first seven games, the Tennessee defense has produced seven takeaways in the last two contests combined.
The UT offense has done its part with the turnovers, scoring seven times on seven possessions (6 TD, FG) created by takeaways in the South Carolina and Memphis games for a total of 45 points.
The Vols have done the scoring quickly as well. After a turnover, the Vols are averaging less than six plays per scoring drive in the last two contests and have scored on drives of four plays or less three times.
On the season, Tennessee has scored on 18 of 19 possessions created by turnovers, scoring 15 touchdowns and kicking three field goals. The Volunteer defense has surrendered just 33 points on 16 turnovers.
Crompton Continues Solid Play
Senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton has overcome early season struggles to become one of the top quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference. The Waynesville, N.C. native ranks third in the league in passing at 216.4 yards per game and leads the league with 21 touchdown passes.
Crompton threw for a school record 305 yards in the first half vs. Memphis. In his last five games, Crompton has completed 94 of 157 (.598) passes for 1,297 yards and 14 touchdowns vs. just two interceptions. In those five games, Crompton averaged 259 yards per game through the air and an interception every 78 attempts.
Through the season's first four games, Crompton had completed 62 of 105 (.590) passes for 641 yards and seven touchdowns vs. eight interceptions. Those numbers work out to an average of 160.25 yards per game and an interception every 13 attempts.
After struggling in 2008 and early 2009, Crompton finds himself in position to become one of UT's top ten passers of all time. He has 3,335 career passing yards, which ranks 12th in program history. He needs just 37 passing yards to reach 10th on the all-time list.
Crompton can average 167 yards per game if the Vols make a bowl or 222 yards per game over UT's last three regular season contests to become just the eighth passer in school history to throw for 4,000 career yards.
Hardesty Among SEC's Top Backs
In nine starts during the 2009 season, senior tailback Montario Hardesty has averaged 100.1 yards per game and scored eight rushing touchdowns.
He ran just 13 times for 60 yards in limited action vs. Memphis after posting 121 yards on 23 carries and scoring twice in UT's romp over South Carolina. That game was his third 100-yard game this season and his second career multi-touchdown effort.
The New Bern, N.C., native currently ranks 25th in the nation and fourth in the SEC in rushing yards per game. He is on pace for 1,201 rushing yards in 2009, which would rank as the eighth-best single-season performance in school history.
Hardesty has reeled off 28 runs of 10 yards or more, including six 20-plus yard treks and touchdown runs of 39 and 43 yards. His eight rushing touchdowns are tied for third in the SEC.
He became the 27th back in school history to eclipse the career 1,500-yard mark with a 140-yard effort vs. Ohio on Sept. 27. He now ranks 14th in school history with 1,947 yards. Hardesty has scored 21 career rushing touchdowns, which is tied for 10th in program history.
Thanks in large part to Hardesty, the Vols are rolling up an average of 168 yards per game on the ground and have scored 13 rushing touchdowns.
Offense Continues to Make Big Plays
Tennessee has produced 29 plays of 20 yards or more in the last five games, and seven of those plays have gone for touchdowns. In the last three games alone, Tennessee posted 17 20-plus yard plays and 28 additional plays that gained between 10 and 19 yards.
The Vols have scored 13 touchdowns in their last three games, and the average number of plays on those scoring drives has been five plays. On six of the 13 scores, UT took five plays or less to find paydirt.
In the first four games of the season, the Vols produced only three touchdown drives of five plays or less, and one came off a UCLA turnover in its own red zone. The Vols managed just 15 plays of 20 yards or more in those games as well.
Tracking The True Freshmen
Tennessee has played no fewer than seven true freshmen in each of its eight games this season. Among those players are offensive standouts Bryce Brown, David Oku, Nu'Keese Richardson and Marsalis Teague.
The four have combined for 146 offensive touches and 938 total yards, good for 104.2 yards per game and 6.4 yards per touch.
Oku and Richardson are combining to average 23.9 yards per kickoff return as well.
Moore, Jones Excel after Early Season Injuries
Junior wideout Gerald Jones caught just three passes in his first three games of the season after sitting out the Western Kentucky game due to injury. In the last five games, Jones has caught 25 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns.
He set a career high for receptions with seven in the Auburn and Alabama games and set a career high for receiving yards with 105 in the Georgia game.
Senior Denarius Moore has also overcome early season injuries to become a threat in the passing game. Moore made only one catch for four yards in the season's first three games, but he has posted 25 catches for 347 yards and four touchdowns in the last six contests.
Moore posted a career-high seven receptions in the Memphis game and also posted the first multi-touchdown game of his career.
After using three different starting lineups at wide receiver in the first five games, Moore and Jones have each started the last four contests and combined for 36 catches, 553 yards and seven touchdowns.
Vols Dominant in Fourth Quarter
Through nine games, the Tennessee defense is allowing an average of 68.6 yards per game and 2,5 points per contest in the fourth quarter. The Vols have allowed just 23 points to be scored in the fourth quarter while scoring 76.
UT opened the season by playing 49 fourth-quarter minutes without allowing a point before surrendering a field goal to Ohio. After giving up a touchdown and a field goal to Auburn in the final frame, the Vols returned to form, giving up 180 total yards and three points while forcing three turnovers in the next three games combined.
Against Memphis, UT sat on a large lead and played its worst fourth quarter statistically of the season, giving up 142 yards and a touchdown to the Tigers.
McCoy Continues Dominant Play
Senior linebacker Rico McCoy continues to be a factor on the defensive side of the ball despite many of his position mates missing games due to injury. McCoy led the team in tackles for the fifth-straight game vs. South Carolina, posting 10 stops and adding two forced fumbles. He posted only one stop in limited duty vs. Memphis.
The Washington, D.C., native has notched double-digit tackle efforts in three of his last five games and has led the team in stops 19 times in his career.
McCoy also has four forced fumbles through nine games, which ranks third nationally and atop the SEC.
He leads the team and ranks third in the SEC with 76 stops (8.4 per game) after posting 87 (7.3 per game) last season.
McCoy also reached the career 300-tackle mark vs. South Carolina. He has 307 stops in four seasons on Rocky Top and could climb into the all-time UT top 10 in total tackles with 25 more stops this season.
Berry A Standout in New Role
Junior defensive back Eric Berry entered the 2009 campaign in search of the school record for career interceptions and the NCAA record for career interception return yards, but a change in coordinators has forced Berry into a new role playing closer to the line of scrimmage.
While Berry is second nationally among active players in interceptions with 14, he is also second on the team in tackles with 62, an average of 6.8 per game. He is also third on the team in tackles for loss with five for nine yards. In his first two seasons, Berry averaged six stops per game and 5.25 tackles for loss per season.
He tied his career high with 14 stops vs. Auburn, and has posted three double-digit tackle games this season and seven in his career.
He has returned to his old big-play self in the last three games, posting a 46-yard fumble return that set up UT's final score vs. Georgia, forcing and recovering a crucial fumble in the fourth quarter at Alabama and posting an interception and a fumble recovery vs. Memphis.
He now stands at 494 career pick return yards, just eight ticks shy of breaking the NCAA record of 501 yards held by Terrell Buckley of Florida State. He has 103 career fumble return yards on four returns.
Williams, Walker Making Strides on D-Line
Senior defensive tackle Dan Williams has posted 26 tackles in the last five games after posting only 16 in the first four games of the season. Williams also has seven quarterback hurries, a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss in the last five games. Williams posted 48 tackles last season, and he is on pace to notch 56 in the 2009 campaign.
Walker missed the South Carolina game with a back injury, but returned with a flurry vs. Memphis, posting 1.5 sacks for 11 yards. He has a team-high 5.5 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss this season. In 2008, he managed just three sacks and four tackles for loss in a backup role.