Just like with Tennessee’s performance in the red zone, both the Vols’ offense and defense were exceptionally bad on third downs last year.
Third down is one of the most pivotal downs in all of college football. A third down conversion can mean the difference in extending a drive or giving an opponent good field position. On defense, it means giving that defense a break if you get a stop and giving your offense a chance to score again. Unfortunately for Tennessee, they were bad on third down on both sides of the ball last season.
The Vols were dead last in the SEC and 120th in the FBS in converting third downs on offense, managing to pick up a first down just 30.67 percent of the time. On defense, they weren’t much better. Tennessee had the second-worst third down defense in the SEC, allowing opponents to convert on 45.18 percent of their third downs. That ranked 113th in the FBS.
Third down is the money down in football, and the Vols went broke last season. Improving this area would go a long way to curing a lot of issues for Tennessee in 2018.