Nov. 11, 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, running all over, taking the ball the other way and more great kicking from Michael Palardy.
First Down: 226 - Tennessee Rushing Yards
The Tennessee running game has been perhaps the most improved area for the Volunteers this season. The 226 yards represented the highest total in an SEC game for Tennessee since also rushing for 226 in an overtime win at Kentucky in 2009. The Vols had not cracked the 200-yard mark in SEC play since that date, the highest total in the interim being 197 against Georgia last season.
Tennessee ran for 200-plus yards for the fourth time in 2013, the first time that has happened since 2004, when UT had seven 200-yard games behind a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Gerald Riggs and Cedric Houston. The Vols had just one 200-yard game in 2012, none in 2011, one in 2010, three in 2009 and two in 2006, 07 and 08.
Through 10 games, Tennessee is averaging 185.9 rushing yards per game, by far the highest average since the 2004 team rushed for 186 yards per game. In that span, the next highest averages were 160 in 2012 and 157.2 in 2009.
With 15 rushing touchdowns, the math is easy to do to arrive at 1.5 per game. Keeping up with that average would tie last year's total of 18 rushing TDs in 12 games with the 19 from 2009 and 2007 well within reach. UT scored 21 touchdowns on he ground in the aforementioned 2004 season.
Second Down: 18 - Yards Covered on Jacques Smith's INT Return for a Touchdown
Smith found the end zone for the first time at Tennessee with his pick-six in the second quarter Saturday. It was the second interception by a defensive lineman on the season and the fourth INT returned for a touchdown by a UT defender this year.
He became the first defensive lineman to post a Pick-6 since Wes Brown did in 2009 vs. Vanderbilt, on the final play of his career at Neyland Stadium late in the fourth quarter.
Smith became the ninth Vol to intercept a pass this season and the 14th player overall to score a touchdown.
The Vols have forced 20 turnovers on the season, 13 interceptions and seven fumbles, after have one of each against Auburn. The total is the highest since the 2010 Volunteers forced 28 on 18 INTs and 10 fumble recoveries.
Third Down: Quick Hits
74 - Kick Return Yards for Devrin Young, which moved him from seventh to fifth on the all-time kick return list at Tennessee with 1,151, passing Dale Carter (1,130) and Dennis Rogan (1,133). He needs just 24 yards to pass David Oku for fourth (1,175) and 156 to eclipse Corey Larkins (1,307) for third.
39 - Yards on Michael Palardy's field goal to cap the Vols' opening drive. It marked the second tie this season Tennessee has scored on the opening drive, the other being the season opener against Austin Peay. It was the first time UT hit a field goal on the opening drive, as the score against Austin Peay came on a Rajion Neal run.
5 - Games this season in which Tennessee has scored first. UT took 7-0 leads against Austin Peay, Oregon and Florida and 3-0 leads over South Carolina and Auburn.
240 - Consecutive games the Volunteers have scored, thanks to Palardy's kick. UT was last shut out by Florida on Sept. 17, 1994.
13 - Field goals on the year by Palardy, a new career-high for a season. The senior also set a new career-high for points scored with 69 points, passing his previous career-best of 64, set in 2012.
3 - 50-yard punts on Saturday for Palardy, including a long of 54. He now has 15 50-plus yard punts on the season, surpassing his previous career-high of 13 last season.
17 - Yards on Rajion Neal's second quarter touchdown run. The TD was his 10th of the season and 17th of his career. Neal is the first UT back to run for double-digit touchdowns since Tauren Poole ran for 11 in 2010.
124 - Rushing yards for Neal, his fourth 100-yard game in 2013. Entering the year, he had just two in his career. He needs 105 yards to become UT's first 1,000-yard rusher since Poole in 2010.
Fourth Down: A Look Ahead
9 - Butch Jones is 9-1 as a head coach coming off an open date, that includes the 23-21 victory over #11 South Carolina earlier this season.
79 - All-time, the Vols are 79-37-9 in gams following an open date, including this season's win over South Carolina.
106 - Meetings between Tennessee and Vanderbilt, second only to Kentucky for UT's most-contested rivalry. The teams have met every year since 1945.
16 - Wins over Vanderbilt by General Robert Neyland, who was hired by Dean Nathan W. Dougherty with the instruction to beat the Commodores.
11 - All time wins on Nov. 23, the next time UT takes the field. This will be the first time since 2002 the Vols have played on the date, a 24-0 win at Vandy. Tennessee last lost on the date in 1957, 20-7 to Kentucky and will look to continue the streak when Vanderbilt comes to town and it's once again Football Time in Tennessee!