During the span between the two disappointing seasons, the lowest average scoring was 28.8 points per game in 1989. Since then, the Vols have failed to average at least 30 points per game in only two of 13 seasons.
How bad is it? Well, out of 117 division 1-A schools across America, Tennessee ranks 83rd nationally and 9th in the SEC.
Of course, this is not the end of the world and I for one don't see this as the norm in coming seasons. However, the disappointment of being ranked so highly in the preseason and the absolute confidence that our offensive line was going to be the best ever has left many a jaw hanging in the balance.
With considerable youth and so many injuries, we shouldn't be terribly surprised by what has happened. It goes with the territory. There are ups and downs to everything. Still the Big Orange Nation wants answers.
While I don't have the answers, I have done some research and put together so much fodder for the masses who continue to grasp at the reality of what it means to be a Vol fan in 2002. This probably won't make any of us feel any better but here are some things that I found. Enjoy!
Volunteer Futility 101
Things could be worse. Here is a brief history lesson outlining some of the most underachieving squads throughout the annals of Volunteer lore.
1988 - Coach: Majors, Record: 5-6, Total Points 212 (19.3ppg)
Most living Vol fans regard the 1988 season as having been the most difficult to endure. Tennessee was trounced by LSU (9-34) and Auburn (6-38) en route to an abysmal 0-6 record before turning their season around. The Vols then won the remaining 5 games of the season, part of 10 straight and 15 of 16 with only 1 loss in 23 games - 2 ties coming in 1990.1974 - Coach: Battle, Record: 7-3-2, Total Points 211 (17.6ppg)
Besides kissing their sister twice during the season, the Vols hobbled through their SEC schedule with a disappointing 2-3-1 record. Alabama and Maryland held the Vols to single-digit scores - falling to the Tide 6-28 while defeating Maryland 7-3 in the Liberty Bowl.1964 - Coach: Dickey, Record: 4-5-1, Total Points 80 (8.0ppg)
Coach Dickey won over Chattanooga in his UT coaching debut. However, he subsequently managed to be shutout 3 times, held to single-digit scores another 3 times before losing the final 3 games of his first season. The 64 Vols posted a 2-3 record in Knoxville and split two other in-state games, winning over Mississippi State in Memphis and falling to Vanderbilt in Nashville.1958 - Coach: Wyatt, Record: 4-6, Total Points 77 (7.7ppg)
1958 marked the middle of Bowden Wyatt's Volunteer coaching tenure. His squad posted a 2-4 home record and a surprising 4-3 SEC slate. The team opened by being shutout 0-13 at the hands of Auburn only to suffer a second shutout 0-10 delivered by FSU in their first ever meeting. Additionally the team was held to single-digit scores 4 times in that season.1909 - Coach: Levene, Record: 1-6-2, Total Points 11 (1.2ppg)
This unit reigns supreme in offensive futility. They were shutout in 6 games consecutively and part of two scoreless ties. They managed to score all 11 of their season's total points in the finale defeating Translyvania 11-0.Home Record
Tennessee is 391-93-17 (.801) overall at home with 71 winning seasons out of 80 years. 35 of those seasons have been undefeated. The last time the Vols had a loosing home record was in 1988, 2-4. The Vols dropped their first 4 home games before winning their remaining two.
Duke 26 31 L LSU 9 34 L Washington State 24 52 L Alabama 20 28 L Boston College 10 7 W Kentucky 28 24 WVs SEC
The Vols have been particularly low scoring in SEC contests. In fact, if you take out the points that Tennessee scored in overtime win over Arkansas; the Vols have scored no more than 18 points against a SEC foe during 2002 and are averaging a scant 15 points per game vs. SEC opponents.
If one looks at the Vols' efficiency in the Orangezone, it might appear that there is little amiss with the offense. The real problem must be that they aren't getting to the Orangezone often enough.
Tennessee improved its efficiency inside opponent's 20-yard line over the last six games, scoring on 16 of its last 20 possessions (10 TDs, 6-7 FGs).
For the season, UT has scored on 26 of 35 occasions (74.3%) with 17 touchdowns.
The Vols made five trips into the Orangezone in six of the nine games, while entering just once against Georgia and Miami and three times versus Alabama.
They have missed four field goals, turned it over twice on downs, thrown one interception, lost one fumble and once at the half.
Of 24 offensive touchdowns the Vols have scored, 17 have come from inside the Orangezone.
So far this season Coach Fulmer's Vols are averaging 23.2 points per game, the lowest of his 11-season tenure. During his inaugural campaign, Fulmer's Vols set a new school record of 484 points over 12 games - a 40.3 points per game average.
To date, every edition of Volunteer football under Coach Fulmer has averaged at least 30 points per contest - a statistic that is in great peril for the 2002 club. In a 12-game season, it would take 151 points in the next 3 outings (50.3ppg) or 181 (45.3ppg) in a bowl extended 13 game season. I'm going out on a limb here… I say it ain't gonna happen but I'd be delighted for Phil and company to prove me wrong.
Coach Fulmer has been shutout only once in 11 seasons and held to single-digits once as well. Of course, that was Miami last week. He has never had a team with less than 8 wins and 6 of his teams have amassed 10 or more wins per season.
Before last Saturday, Tennessee's football team had not scored in the single digits since losing to Alabama by a score of 6-9 in 1990. However the Vols were shutout by Florida 0-31 in 1994, also a "last time" noteworthy. If you want to know - "When was the last time Tennessee scored only 3 points? Well, it was back in 1983, some 239 games and 20 seasons ago. The Vols lost to Pittsburgh by a score of 3-13. Additionally, UT had scored a TD in 104 straight games until the streak was snapped against Miami.
During that same span of 240 games, the Vols have scored in the single-digits only 8 times, including the most recent loss to #1 Miami by a score of 3-26. The Big Orange emerged from only one of those 8 games with a victory, blanking Rutgers 7-0 in 1983.
1983 - 3-13 Pittsburgh, 7-0 Rutgers* 1985 - 6-6 Georgia Tech 1986 - 8-34 Auburn 1988 - 9-34 LSU, 6-38 Auburn 1990 - 6-9 Alabama 2002 - 3-26 Miami *Last Single-digit score that was a win for the Vols.
Holding the Vols scoreless has been a difficult chore. Tennessee was last shutout by Florida, at home in Knoxville 1994, by a score of 0-31. Prior to that, it had been over 13 years since the Vols had failed to tally - in 1981 Georgia pummeled Tennessee 0-44.
In the history of the program, the Vols have been shutout 110 times.
Last: 1994 - Tennessee 0, Florida 31.
Conversely, the Vols have shutout opponents 258 times.
Last: 1999 - Tennessee 24, Auburn 0.