Comparing '01 Vols and '02 Vols

A comparison of Tennessee's nine-game statistics from 2001 and 2002 yields some fascinating results. To wit:

The Vols are scoring right at a touchdown per game less than a year ago (23.3 points per game, compared to 29.2).

Although this year's offense is sometimes painful to watch, it is just 10 first downs behind last season (164, compared to 174).

In an amazing coincidence, the Vols have thrown one more pass this year than last (262 vs. 261) and completed one more (166 vs. 165). The passing yardage is similar (1,999 yards this year, compared to 2,195 last year).

Believe it or not, this year's running game is within 100 yards of last year's in terms of overall production -- 1,283 yards, down from 1,368.

Believe it or not, Part 2: This year's Vols are just one rushing touchdown off last year's pace (13, compared to 14).

Tennessee's averages in yards-per-play (5.5 vs. 5.7) and yards-per-game (364.7 vs. 395.5) are closer than you'd expect.

Tennessee has lost 18 turnovers this year (12 fumbles, 6 interceptions), compared to only 11 last year (4 fumbles, 7 interceptions).

The Vols of 2002 are more penalty prone, averaging 66.0 yards penalized per game, up from 54.9 last season.

Tennessee is converting 36 percent of its third-down opportunities, down from 41 percent a year ago.

Pass protection has been a problem. The Vols have allowed 28 sacks, up from 21 at this point last year.

And now for a look at the defensive comparison between 2001 and 2002:

Despite the departure of six starters from last year, the Vols are allowing just one more point per game than a year ago (20.0, compared to 19.0).

Minus all of last year's Front Four starters, Tennessee is allowing significantly more yards per rush (3.4, compared to 2.8) and more rushing yards per game (132.3, compared to 88.1) than a year ago.

The Vols are almost identical to last year in terms of total yards allowed (2,780 vs. 2,746) and total yards allowed per game (308.9 vs. 305.1).

Tennessee's kicking game is on the upswing. The '02 Vols average 42.4 yards per punt (up from 38.6). They also boast better return averages on both punts (11.3 vs. 8.0) and kickoffs (25.1 vs. 20.3).

Of course, the biggest difference between the 2001 and 2002 teams is their records. Through nine games a year ago, UT was 9-1 overall and 5-1 in SEC play. This year's team stands 5-4 and 2-3.

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