With three games to play, several Vols are ranked among the SEC leaders in multiple categories. Tennessee, as a team, is also leading (or close to leading) the conference in a few areas. Here’s a quick roundup.
Sacks – The Vols rank 4th in the SEC in sacks, up from dead last the past two seasons. Kentucky ranks 13th in the SEC in sacks allowed – Tennessee will have a chance to improve its standing this weekend.
Tackles for Loss – Tennessee ranks 2nd in the SEC in tackles for loss, up from 12th last year. The Vols are just four tackles for loss behind Ole Miss for first in the SEC and the Rebels have played one more game. Kentucky ranks last in the SEC in tackles for loss allowed – Tennessee could take over first place after Saturday’s games.
Kick Coverage – The Vols surrendered numerous NCAA return records to Auburn last year so it shouldn’t surprise you that their kick return defense ranked 13th in the SEC while their punt return defense ranked 12th. Tennessee is a drastically improved team in those areas this season – ranking 3rd in opponent kick return average (19.03 yards per return) and 1st in opponent punt return average (3.35 yards per return).
Rushing Yards – Since Dobbs entered the lineup at quarterback, the Vols are averaging 262.5 yards rushing per game. While that’s an extremely small sample size, it would rank 2nd in the SEC behind only Auburn.
Penalties – Tennessee is the least penalized team in the conference, both in terms of yards per game (28.2) and penalties per game (4).
Joshua Dobbs – As with the rushing stats above, keep in mind the small sample size. Dobbs’ QBR of 84.9 ranks 3rd in the SEC behind Blake Sims and Nick Marshall and 5th nationally. His 120.5 rushing yards per game rank 2nd in the SEC behind Cameron Artis-Payne (132.22). His 246.5 passing yards per game rank 6th in the SEC and his 367 total yards of offense per game lead the conference.
A.J. Johnson – Tennessee’s senior linebacker leads the SEC with 96 tackles – which puts him just four tackles from his 3rd consecutive 100 tackle season. His 8.5 tackles for loss place him 11th in the SEC. He set a career high for sacks this season and will probably do the same for tackles for loss.
Jalen Reeves–Maybin – Playing in his first season at outside linebacker, Reeves–Maybin ranks 10th in the SEC in tackles with 71 and 15th in tackles for loss (with 8.0).
Brian Randolph – Tennessee’s junior safety ranks 11th in the SEC with 68 tackles.
Derek Barnett – The first true freshman to ever start the season at defensive end for the Vols, Barnett led all true freshman defenders with 49 tackles headed into Tennessee’s open date. His 14 tackles for loss stand at 2nd in the conference and his seven sacks rank 3rd.
Curt Maggitt – Playing his first full season of football since 2011, Maggitt is really finding his stride. Maggitt has nine tackles for loss, ranking 10th in the SEC, and six sacks, ranking 7th.
Cam Sutton – In addition to his reputation as one of the best cover corners in the league, he ranks 4th in the SEC in interceptions with three.