By Jimmy Hyams
Tennessee’s high-scoring offense was nearly unstoppable this season.
And when it was stopped, there were two primary culprits: sacks and penalties.
They accounted for Tennessee’s touchdown-stopping drives 22% of the time.
My criteria: I used Power Five opponents only and the first-team offense only.
Notice, I said touchdown-stopping drives. If a penalty or sack forced a field-goal attempt, that counted against the offense.
Against Pitt, UT managed four touchdowns on 14 possessions. Tennessee had two drives stopped by penalty and three by sacks.
Against Florida, Tennessee got five touchdowns on nine possessions. One was stopped via a sack.
Against LSU, the Vols scored touchdowns on four of 11 possessions. Two were stopped by penalty.
Against Alabama, UT scored a touchdown on seven of 14 possessions. Two sacks stopped drives.
Against Kentucky, UT scored a touchdown on six of 11 possessions. Two were stopped by a sack and one by penalty.
Against Georgia, UT scored one touchdown on 10 possessions. Three sacks and two penalties stopped five drives.
Against Missouri, UT scored a TD on nine of 13 possessions. Three possessions were stopped by sacks.
Against South Carolina, UT scored five touchdowns on 11 possessions. One was stopped by a sack, one by penalty.
Against Vanderbilt, UT had 11 possessions and scored seven touchdowns. No drive was stopped via penalty or sack.
Thus, UT’s first-team offense against nine Power Five opponents scored a touchdown on 48 of 104 possessions.
A penalty or sack stopped 23 of those drives.
Bottom line: Tennessee scored a touchdown on 46% of its possessions against Power Five teams and a penalty or sack stopped drives 22% of the time.
If Tennessee had cleaned up those sacks and penalties, the Vols would have averaged more than 50 points per game.
Instead, UT averaged a mere 47.3 points, which led the nation.