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.