Defensive Play Isn't Helping Dooley-coached Tennessee Volunteers

By Steve LeMaster

Injured head coach Derek Dooley continues to guide the Tennessee Volunteers (3-5 overall, 0-5 SEC). It’s been a challenge at times. But not as challenging as Tennessee’s defensive struggles. The Tennessee defense has negated outstanding offensive efforts from the Volunteers in multiple games over the last nine weeks. Tennessee’s defensive performances this season hasn’t helped Dooley’s bid to remain on the sidelines in Knoxville.

How much has the Tennessee defense struggled? Mightily on many occasions.

In SEC play, Tennessee ranks last in four defensive categories: scoring defense (42.2 ppg), rushing defense (226.2 ypg), pass defense (296.4 ypg) and total defense (566.2 ypg).

Tennessee is tied for last in three other categories: sacks (seven), red zone defense (19-for-19) and turnover margin (11.40).

Dooley’s Tennessee defense is staying on the field quite a bit these days. The Volunteers rank 13th in time of possession (26:13).

Tennessee has suffered four straight losses. The Volunteers haven’t won since defeating the Akron Zips on Sept. 22. Now, to get bowl eligible, Tennessee must win three of its final four regular-season games. Closing in on 800 all-time wins, Tennessee will have the luxury of playing three of its last four regular-season games at home in Knoxville. The Volunteers will host the Troy Trojans for Homecoming on Saturday. Tennessee has additional regular-season home games remaining versus the Missouri Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats. Tennessee’s lone road remaining away game will be at Vanderbilt later in the month.

Attrition hasn’t been much of a factor for the Volunteers. For Tennessee fans, fortunately, there are no injuries to key defensive players heading into the weekend.


Steve LeMaster is a college football columnist for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter.

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