Comparing '06 vs. '05 stats

After being offensive only in the figurative sense en route to a 5-6 record in 2005, Tennessee's attack was offensive in a much more literal sense as the Vols posted a 9-3 regular-season record in 2006.

A comparison of 2005 and 2006 statistics yields the following:

The 2006 Vols averaged 29.3 points, nearly 11 per game ahead of last year's 18.6 points-per-game norm.

Tennessee's opponents scored more points in 2006, as well, but only slightly more. Vol foes averaged 19.5, roughly a point above last year's 18.6 norm.

The 2006 Vols averaged 374.3 yards of total offense per game, nearly 50 yards per game better than last year's 326.3 mark. This was accomplished with a more pass-oriented attack. The '06 Vols threw for 65 yards per game more (264.2, up from 198.0) but ran for 18 yards per game less (110.1, down from 128.3) than they had in '05.

Conversely, Tennessee opponents became far more run-oriented in 2006. They averaged 143.7 rushing yards per game, up more than 60 yards per game from last year's average of 82.5. Neutralizing that somewhat was the fact the '06 Vol foes passed for just 179.5 yards per game, down more than 35 from last year's average of 215.7 per game. Net result: Tennessee's opponents averaged 25 yards per game more than a year ago, going from 298.2 to 323.2.

Tennessee was much more efficient on third down in '06, boosting its conversion rate from 38.0 percent last year to 48.3 this year. Opponents were more efficient, too, boosting their success rate from 37.0 percent to 41.7.

The Vols improved dramatically on fourth down, going from 29.0 percent in '05 to 60 percent in '06. Tennessee's foes improved just as dramatically, going from 18.0 percent in '05 to 46.1 in '06.

Quarterback Erik Ainge rescued his career in 2006, as his numbers dramatically illustrate. Consider:

He improved his completion percentage from 45.5 to 66.9

He raised his touchdown total by 14 (from 5 to 19), while raising his interception total by only 1 (from 7 to 8).

He boosted his passer-efficiency rating from 89.94 to 155.42.

Ainge's favorite target, Robert Meachem, improved his numbers significantly from 2005 to 2006, as well.

Meachem bumped his reception total from 29 to 67. He raised his yards-per-catch average from 13.2 to 18.9 and boosted his touchdown production from 2 to 11.

Tennessee's kicking game made progress in 2006, as well. James Wilhoit improved his field-goal percentage from 73.7 (14 of 19) to 85.0 (17 of 20). Britton Colquitt punted less (41 times, compared to 59 last year) but more effectively, boosting his average by nearly four yards per kick (41.2 to 45.0).

Even the Vols' punt-return unit made a noteworthy step forward, improving its average from 8.4 per runback to 11.9.

One problem remains unsolved, however. Tennessee's kickoff-return average was even worse than last year, plummeting from 19.8 to 15.9.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories