Fantastic in the fourth

If the Tennessee Vols could play four quarters the way they play the fourth quarter they'd be 3-0 instead of 1-2.

No matter how the Big Orange performs in periods 1, 2 and 3, it seems to play its best in the final 15 minutes.

Consider:

Game 1: Tennessee completed a six-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter against Western Kentucky. The Vols recovered a fumble and went 22 yards in four plays for another TD. They intercepted a pass and moved 46 yards in five plays for a third TD. After forcing a punt, they went 59 yards in seven plays for a fourth TD. After forcing another punt, they advanced 56 yards in four plays only to have time run out.

Bottom line: Tennessee kept the ball 10:09-4:51, ran 21 plays to WKU's nine, outgained the Hilltoppers 188 to minus-8 and outscored Western 28-0.

Game 2: The Vols went 29 yards in 10 plays to complete a drive that began in the third quarter and culminated in a field goal. After three UCLA plays netted minus-1 yard and resulted in a punt, Tennessee marched 53 yards in 13 plays only to surrender the ball on downs at the Bruin 1-yard line. After the Bruins were tackled for a safety on third down, Tennessee ran four plays that lost four yards and included an interception. UCLA ran out the clock with two plays that lost three yards.

Bottom line: Tennessee kept the ball 12:34 to 2:26, ran 27 plays to UCLA's eight, outgained the Bruins 79 yards to minus-5 and outscored UCLA 5-0.

Game 3: Tennessee threw two incompletions, then punted to complete a possession begun in the third period. Florida gained 54 yards on six plays, then fumbled. Tennessee launched a seven-play 63-yard touchdown drive, then forced a three-and-out on which the Gators gained just 3 yards. Tennessee advanced 27 yards in nine plays only to give up the ball on an interception. Florida ran out the clock with four plays that netted 12 yards.

Bottom line: Tennessee kept the ball 8:01 to 6:59, ran 18 plays to Florida's 13, outgained the Gators 90 yards to 69 and outscored Florida 7-0.

So, how dominant has Tennessee been in the fourth quarter? The Vols have outgained their first three opponents 357 to 56 in yards and outscored them 40 to 0 in points.

What makes the fourth-quarter performance against Florida so impressive is that the Vols were limited to nine net yards on seven plays in the third quarter, yet somehow recaptured the momentum in the fourth.

"I'm excited about the way they rallied, especially in the fourth quarter," head coach Lane Kiffin said on his post-game show. "We had another good fourth quarter ... just like we did last week. It's good to see, especially with a team that's not extremely deep. For our guys to suck it up and continue to play ... was really good to see, especially in a hostile environment like this."


Inside Tennessee Top Stories