2003: 27 touchdown passes en route to a 10-3 record
2004: 27 touchdown passes en route to a 10-3 record
2005: 11 touchdown passes en route to a 5-6 record
2006: 24 touchdown passes en route to a 9-4 record
2007: 33 touchdown passes en route to a 10-4 record
2008: 8 touchdown passes en route to a 5-7 record
2009: 28 touchdown passes en route to a 7-6 record
During that seven-year stretch, Tennessee averaged nearly 28 touchdown passes in its five winning seasons but less than 10 touchdown passes per year in its two losing seasons.
That's why the return of senior receivers Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore should bode well for the 2010 Vols. Jones averaged 14.8 yards per catch last fall with 4 TD grabs. Moore averaged 13.5 per catch with 7 touchdown receptions. The latter's career averages show 15.7 yards per catch and a touchdown roughly every seven receptions (65 catches, 9 TDs).
Jones (6-0, 195) and Moore (6-1, 194) should wreak some serious havoc in SEC secondaries this fall ... assuming the patchwork line can protect well enough and the unproven quarterbacks can throw well enough to get them the ball on a regular basis.
Jones and Moore are backed up by a cast of talented but inexperienced pups. Marsalis Teague caught 13 balls for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns last fall, while fellow sophomore Zach Rogers caught three balls for 19 yards. Junior Todd Campbell did not catch a pass last fall but is a solid player.
Tennessee signed the NCAA's premier group of high school receivers last February - adding size and talent with 6-3, 215-pound Da' Rick Rogers (Calhoun, Ga.), 6-6, 200-pound Matt Milton (Mascoutah, Ill.), 6-3, 170-pound Ted Meline (Miami, Fla.) and 6-4, 183-pound Justin Hunter (Virginia Beach).
Milton and Meline got a head start by participating in spring practice, which should give their chances of contributing as true freshmen a significant boost.
Jones caught two balls for 16 yards in the first spring scrimmage, missed the second with a sore ankle, then caught six balls for 84 yards and a touchdown in the Orange & White Game. That's a combined eight receptions for 100 yards, a 12.5-yard average.
Moore had a solid spring, as well, catching two balls for 53 yards in scrimmage No. 2, then three balls for 39 yards and a TD in the Orange & White Game. His five receptions netted 92 yards for an 18.5 per-catch average.
Campbell caught a 10-yard pass in the first scrimmage and two passes for 18 yards in the second, finishing the spring with three grabs for 28 yards, an average of 9.3 per catch.
Milton caught two balls for 11 yards in the first scrimmage, four for 17 yards and 2 TDs in the second, then six for 47 yards in the O&W Game. He closed the spring as the Vols' leading receiver with 12 catches for 75 yards, a 6.2 per-catch average.
Meline's only catch of the spring was a 14-yarder in the first scrimmage.
Position rating: Very good. Could be great if someone emerges as a complement to Jones and Moore.