2021 Production Loss – Tennessee

The second team on Pitt’s 2022 schedule – the Tennessee Volunteers.

Josh Heupel exceeded all expectations in his first season as HC of the Vols: 7 – 6 (4–4 Conf, 3-1 OOC, 0-1 bowl). Preseason expectation were mainly 5-7 with a few bowl eligible 6-6’s  thrown in. Their biggest victory was a win at Kentucky (10-3) that all but guaranteed a bowl eligible season and  second place finish in the PAC 12  ACC SEC East.

How did they do it – the 2021 schedule and results. Also, the Tennessee 2022 OOC schedule.

Tennessee plays the same OOC scheduling as a vast majority of SEC teams – one P5, two G5, and an FCS opponent. Only Florida and Georgia schedules two P5 consistently. Starting in 2025, Alabama and South Carolina adds a second P5 opponent. Georgia and Florida added a third (or even fourth) P5 team.

All those changes were made for the expansion of the College Football Playoffs (CFP) to either eight or twelve teams. Since no one knew how the CFP was going to pick the additional teams, it was assumed by the SEC that strength of schedule was going to be a determining factor. With ten or eleven P5 opponents, the SEC hoped for three or four teams chosen. It was also a way to get the PAC 12, Big 10 and BIG 12 off their belly aching about the SEC playing nine P5 teams while they normally played ten.

But that scheduling is now endangered. The addition of Oklahoma and Texas in 2024 or 25 may lead to a nine-game conference schedule. If it does, it will result in cancellations of future P5 matchups. Now an independent, BYU (joining the BIG 12 in 2023) recently announced a spat of cancellations of its future games.

Here are the Rivals 5.7 and above 2022 commits. Also included are the current Transfer Portal (TP) additions.

Four offensive players and three defensive players.

Should we start a poll on when 5.9, 4-star QB enters the TP? Supposedly , a 2023 Tennessee QB commit has a $8.1 million NIL deal. Schuler, a TP QB is a walk-on (and son of former Vol QB Heath Schuler. Former 5-star WR, Bru McCoy is the star get from the TP. So far, he has not lived up to his 5-star billing. Was it him or Slovis or other Sothern Cal QB’s? McCoy, from LA, originally signed with Texas. Asked out of his NLI (National Letter of Intent) and scurred back to LA once granted.

The Vols only lost 17 ranked and signed players since last August. That is down from the 34 players in last year’s TP

On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or members of the All Big 10 teams.

Just eligibility losses.

The  offense revolves around QB play. I have added sacked and yards lost to the QB chart.

Hooker ranked #3 in passing efficiency. Behind Hooker is Joe Milton and the 2022 signed commit QB.

I also added Hooker’s career passing and rushing stats. Notice his TD/Interception ratio.

Tennessee running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production summary for Pitt, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

Outside of BC and Clemson, Tennessee has the highest percentage of returning RB’s and WR’s production. Good QB and a former 5-star to make up for the loss of the Vols second and third leading receivers.

Can the Oline stats put a damper on the returning production. I added Pitt allowed sacks and tackles for loss.

No. Looks like a solid Oline. Not great. Similar to Pitt’s Oline. What does stand out to me is the sacks allowed – 44 in 13 games compared to Pitt’s 34 in 14 games. But Tennessee’s made up for it with a lower number of TFL’s.

On to the defensive review.

Tennessee had 49 players make a defensive stat. But eight of them were offense players. One was a special teams players. That leaves 40 defensive players making a stat.

The chart below strips out the non-defensive players and fourteen players who did not make at least seven or more tackles.

The below chart includes 26 players- ten DB’s, eight DL’s and eight LB’s making up (and I mean made up) “eight+ tackles two deep.”  Yep, I lowered the number of tackles to have at least a “two deep.”

Tennessee’s returning defensive production is one of the higher ones reviewed. But let us put it into perspective. Per the NCAA defensive team stats, the Vol’s where not a good defensive team.

I should have used this chart in all my past reviews.

IMO on a scale of A+ to F-, Tennessee is a “D- “. (I have Pitt’s defense as a “B.”) Is Tennessee’s defense going to make a jump in their defensive? Probably yes. A major jump to a “C”? No.

This is going to be an interesting game. I believe Tennessee is embarrassed by losing to Pitt at home last year. They will want revenge. I have not seen any betting lines on this game but would not be surprised that the Vols are favorites.

28 thoughts on “2021 Production Loss – Tennessee

  1. Good stuff Rich .. again. In my way too early analysis of the Pitt-UT matchup, I believe the ability of the Pitt offense to run the ball is key. I noticed they (Vols) were ranked 59th in run defense … not good but much better than their pass defense. It seems that they get involved with shootouts which often is in their favor

    Pitt can’t get too far behind like they did last year. But if the Panthers can run early and often, I would think Pitt would have an edge

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Rich. I give Tennessee a slight better odds since Hooker is the more experienced QB passes and runs well. His move from VATech was certainly a good one for him. He only threw three INTs last year which is outstanding. Pitt will really need to put the pressure on him to get a win.

    I do agree that a shoot-out may not be good for Pitt minus Addison.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. $70 For a 14 game season ticket.

      When you take into account the quality of the team’s recent play this has to be the best sports entertainment value available.



  3. Thanks for all you do Richard …I was in Knoxville last year. What an atmosphere to watch a college game!!!
    I will add one comment -Josh Heupel will fully test Narduzzi’s defensive philosphy. in this match-upI wish we played the Vols every year….we were lucky last year as PITT could have easily lost by 20 plus points if either Tennessee QB could have hit the broad side of a barn…Heupel will attack on offense. I see him being the answer to all of the coaching problems UT has experienced over the past 15 or so years.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. No doubt there are more high profile players that have Pitt on their list. Up to Narduzzi to close the deal on the guys that fit. Really need to find out which ones are the character guys that want to be here and will not jump ship when things aren’t perfect.


  5. Great info, Richard. And scary info for Pitt fans. But that late addition of the Vols defensive rankings helped a bit…

    I say Hooker’s ridiculously low interception numbers can’t continue. He’s due for a couple of tipped passes to go the other way…

    If Pitt finds a way to win the Tenn game, we will certainly look pretty legit. Another terrific early challenge for the Fightin Panthers.

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Had to check on the Int’s. Number is correct. But Pitt’s Brandon Hill had one of those 3 Int’s. The turnover resulted in Pitt “running” out the clock (over 4 minutes) for the victory.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think schools like Tenn and NC have a nice recruiting advantage because of their location. They can easily attract stud players from both north and south of them.

    UTenn gets a lot of players from GA and Tenn, but also players from NC, TX, FL…
    A recent class had 4-stars from NC, VA, TX and TENN.

    They look like a rising team in the SEC.

    Go Pitt.


  7. Thanks Richard!

    I was sitting next to BigB in Knoxville and echo his concerns.

    Hooker will test us with his legs and I hope we have a good plan to contain him.
    The WRs are a concern and if Heupel is successful at coaching up Hooker into a better pocket passer, we could have our hands full.

    On the other side of the ball, Im hoping that the vols defensive struggles continue into this season – at least through week 2. I’m less worried about the departure of Addison than I am of the unknown at QB….whoever that is. Is Mumpfield the real deal and does another TE step up?

    We may have a good crowd for the game if Pitt beats WVU. The 3:30 pm game time is a plus and the opponent will attract some interest as well. If that all lines up, we should enjoy nice home field advantage – and who knows? Maybe the Panther Pitt can cause a bad snap or two for the Vols.

    Think we wake up on Sept 11 at 1-1… 25% chance of going 2-0, 50% chance of 1-1 and 25% chance of going 0-2.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If we want to annoy the Vols, we should play the refrain of Sweet Caroline after every score. Get it in theirs heads. Heck, I walked around for two weeks after the game in Knoxville whistling Rocky Top.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pitt women’s volleyball released their schedule for the season. The Tennessee women’s volleyball team will be on campus September 16th.
    Richard: Posts with links seem to be a problem. Also, I sent an article to Reed’s e-mail on Pitt women’s volleyball production loss from last year if you want to use it as a filler.


    1. Had no idea why it got hung-up. You had words with the link. Blows my assumption that links without verbiage are the only ones that don’t go through.
      Maybe it’s the website. I vaguely remember that this is not the only one from the Pitt Athletic department that didn’t go thru.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pitt leads the ACC with 14 on the @AthlonSports Preseason All-ACC Team.

    DT » Kancey
    OL » Warren
    DE » Baldonado
    LB » Dennis
    S » Hill
    RB » Abanikanda
    WR » Wayne
    TE » Bartholomew
    OL » Drexel
    OL » Minor
    K » Scarton
    WR » Mumpfield
    OL » Houy
    S » Hallett

    #H2P » http://bit.ly/3x8yJSS


    1. Puzzling to me how we get 4 offensive linemen on there…but nice to see…

      Go Pitt.


    2. Thanks Rick, hope all is great in York. Lots of never, can’ts and won’t myths busted by the great big meatball from Youngstown. Should I be more specific? Like recruiting…. winning… yada yada yada.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Wow, another great article, Rich! We can’t thank you enough. I will be bringing a good buddy and Vols fan to the tailgate and game and sure would like to send him home unhappy. Hoping Narduzzi can up his win streak over Huepel to 3 games.

    Liked by 2 people

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