Dec. 2, 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 the ball like the good ole days, the passing game starts to click for a freshman QB and a look back at some great Vol careers.
First Down: 218 - Rushing Yards for Tennessee
Perhaps the most consistent element of the 2013 Volunteers was the running game, and that was on display once again in Team 177's final act at Kentucky. The team had its best year o the ground since 2004, pretty much any way you figure it. Tennessee rushed for 218 yards on Saturday night, the fifth 200-yard game of the season. That marked the most 200-yard games in a season since the 2004 Vols had seven. It tied the 2004 team for 200-yard games in the regular season, as Tennessee '04 also ran for 200 yards in the SEC Championship game and the Cotton Bowl.
To find five total 200-yard games, you have to go all the way back to 2009, as UT rushed for 200 yards just twice last season, none in 2011 and once in 2010. The 2009 Vols ran for 200 yards three times. Prior to getting the five 200-yard games this season, Tennessee teams had rushed for the mark just 14 times since the 2004 season. 218 yards Saturday gave UT 2,261 for the season, the highest total since the 2004 team ran for 2,418. In the time between, UT had just one 2,000-yard season, 2,043 in 2009.
Tennessee averaged 5.1 yards per carry against Kentucky, which helped keep the season average at 4.9 ypc, the best average since the 1998 Volunteers also averaged 4.9. Two rushing touchdowns on the night gave UT 18 on the season, matching last year's total and tying for the most since the 2009 Vols ran for 19 scores.
Second Down: 43 - Yards on Josh Dobbs' TD Pass to Jason Croom
Dobbs found Croom, via the hinds of a Kentucky defensive back, for his first-career touchdown pass, a ball that Croom battled mightily for before taking it into the end zone. The catch marked the longest reception of Croom's career and capped a 94-yard drive, Tennessee's longest of the season at that point. It was the second touchdown catch of the year for the redshirt freshman, the first coming on the initial catch of his career at Oregon.
The first rushing touchdown of Dobbs career came on the longest run of his time at Tennessee, a 40-yard scamper that was the longest run by a Tennessee quarterback since Tee Martin's 55-yard carry against Syracuse in 1998. The score was the longest touchdown run by a Vol QB since Alan Cockrell scored from 43 yards out against LSU in 1983. The run helped surpass the earlier drive for longest of the season, covering 98 yards on eight plays.
Dobbs' second touchdown pass didn't take as long to achieve as his first. The freshman threw a bullet to Devrin Young from seven yards out in the third quarter to push the Tennessee lead to 27-7. It was just the third multi-TD day for a UT quarterback this season, the first against an SEC opponent. Justin Worley's threw three TD passes against Austin Peay and a pair against South Alabama.
Dobbs completed 14 of 23 passes for 199 yards, the highest yards per attempt (8.65) in any game this season, and the second-highest yards per completion (14.2) of the season behind the 15 against Alabama.
Third Down: 60 - Yards on Rajion Neal's first carry of the game
Neal entered the game in Lexington needing just 10 yards to crack the 1,000-yard mark on the season. He admitted after the game that reaching the milestone had weighed on him all week. It sure didn't seem that way on the game's second play when he ran to the right and all the way to the end zone for the game's first score on Tennessee's longest rushing play since Cordarrelle Patterson's 67-yard run against N.C. State in the 2012 season opener.
Neal finished the night with 134 yards on 20 carries, his fifth 100-yard game of 2013. He finished the season with 1,124 yards, the most since Montario Hardesty ran for 1,413 in 2009. Neal is the first Tennessee back to rush for 1,000 yards since Tauren Poole in 2010, the first since Hardesty to accomplish the feat in 12 games, as Poole completed his mark in the 13th game.
Neal's total on the season was 43 yards better than the entire Tennessee team in 2011.
The carry gave Neal his 12th touchdown of the season, the most by a Vol back since Hardesty in 2009. He more than doubled his career output in 2013, entering the season with seven rushing scores.
Fourth Down: Quick Hits
4 - Punts from Palardy that covered 50+ yards, giving him 19 punts of 50+ yards on the season. That equals the mosts since Dustin Colquitt also had 19 in 2003.
4.5 - Sacks for Corey Miller, breaking Reggie White's single-game record of four, set against The Citadel in 1983. It was the first multi-sack game of Miller's career and nearly equaled his career total entering the game of five.
5 - Palardy punts that were downed inside he 5-yard line.
9 - A.J. Johnson tackles, giving him 106 for the season. Paired with his 138 takedowns last seaosn, Johnson posted the first back-to-back 100-tackle seasons at UT since Earnest Fields in 1990-91.
15 - All time wins on Nov. 30. Tennessee last lost on the date in 1911.
28 - Wins over Kentucky to just one loss since 1985.
40 - Rushing yards on Dobbs touchdown, the longest rushing TD by a Vols quarterback since Alan Cockrell in 1983 vs. LSU with a 43-yarder.
49 - Career starts for Ja'Wuan James, eclipsing the previous UT record for starts by an offensive lineman of 48 set by Jeff Smith from 1992-95. James started and played every game at right tackle since 2010, and finishes second in career games played by an offensive lineman, trailing Dallas Thomas (50, 2009-12) by one.
52 - Rushing yards for Dobbs against Kentucky, the higest rushing total by a Tennessee QB since Martin ran for 54 against Kentucky in 1998.
67 - Kick Return Yards for Devrin Young, who remained fourth on the all-time kick return list at Tennessee with 1,263. He returned 19 kicks for 493 yards, despite being limited to seven games due to a injury suffered in the season opener. He will enter his senior season in 2014 with a real chance to finish atop the all-time list. He needs 44 yards to catch Corey Larkins (1,307) for third and is just 591 yards from Willie Gault's all-time record of 1,854.
69 - Yards on Michael Palardy's fourth-quarter punt, the longest of his career.
139 - Kentucky rushing yards. This was the fourth time this season Tennessee held an opponent to less than 150 yards on the ground. Combined with limiting Vanderbilt to 90 a week ago, it marked the first time the Volunteers had held opponents to under 150 yards in back-to-back games since the 2011 Vols did it in three straight games against Florida (134), Buffalo (148) and Georgia (139).
189 - Rushing Yards for Dobbs in 2013, the most by a Tennessee quarterback since Martin ran for 317 in 1999.
242 - Consecutive games the Volunteers have scored, thanks to Neal's first-quarter touchdown. UT was last shut out by Florida on Sept. 17, 1994.
2,163 - Career rushing yards for Neal, who moved past Aaron Hayden and Charlie Garner on Saturday to finish 12th on the all-time rushing list at Tennessee.
Point After: A Look Ahead
5 - Consecutive season-openers won by Tennessee.
11 - Consecutive home non-conference wins, a streak that dates back to 32-29 over UAB in 2010.
15 - Wins since 2000 over opponents in the initial meeting between the schools, as UT and Utah State will meet for the first time in the 2014 season opener. Since 2000, UT has met 18 teams for the first time and 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.
270 - Days until Utah State comes to Neyland Stadium and it's once again Football Time in Tennessee!