Injuries couldn't stop Vol defense

Even riddled by injuries, Tennessee's defense proved to be one of the stoutest in the Southeastern Conference during the just-concluded 2002 regular season.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis' troops ranked second among SEC schools in pass efficiency defense (98.6 rating), third in scoring defense (16.4 points per game), third in total defense 285.8 yards per game), fourth in pass defense (159.2 yards per game) and fourth in rushing defense (126.5 yards per game).

In addition, UT ranked third among SEC schools in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to score on just 65.7 percent (23 of 35) of their forays inside the UT 20-yard line. The 23 scores broke down to 10 rushing touchdowns, five passing touchdowns and eight field goals.

Perhaps the crowning achievement of Chavis' charges was allowing opponents to convert on just 28.1 percent (47 of 167) of their third-down opportunities -- the best percentage of any SEC school. Ironically, UT was a mediocre seventh among league schools in fourth-down defense, allowing foes to convert on 52.9 percent (9 of 17) fourth-down opportunities.

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