Even learning a new system under head coach Lane Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, the Vols made dramatic progress in 2009. A comparison of the 12-game offensive numbers from 2008 and '09 shows just what a quantum leap the attack unit took in the past 12 months.
Here's a sampling:
- The 2009 Vols scored 30.6 points per game, basically a two-touchdown improvement over the 2008 average of 17.3 points per game.
- The 2009 Vols averaged 169.8 rushing yards per game, up from just 122.9 a year ago. This comparison is even more dramatic when you consider that rushing attempts increased by just three per game (34.1 to 37.2).
- The 2009 Vols averaged 4.6 yards per carry, up from 3.8 a year ago.
- The 2009 Vols averaged 225.6 passing yards per game, an 80-yard increase over the 2008 average of 145.8 per game.
- The 2009 Vols threw 27 touchdown passes, more than tripling last year's 12-game total of 8.
- The 2009 Vols averaged 395.4 yards of total offense per game, an improvement of nearly 32 percent from last year's 268.8 norm.
- The 2009 Vols punted just 50 times after booting the ball away 69 times last season.
- The 2009 Vols converted on 40 percent of their third-down tries, up from 35 percent in 2008.
- The 2009 Vols scored 47 touchdowns, nearly doubling last season's total of 26.
Individually, the biggest gains on offense were made by Jonathan Crompton, Montario Hardesty, Luke Stocker, Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore.
Crompton improved his passing yardage total from 889 in 2008 to 2,565 in 2009 and his passing TD total from 4 to 26. He also bumped his passer-efficiency rating from 98.13 to 135.83 and his completion percentage from 51.5 to 58.4.
Hardesty boosted his per-game rushing average from 24.6 in 2008 to 108.8 in 2009 and doubled his rushing TD total from 6 to 12. In addition, he improved his per-carry average from 3.6 yards to 4.9.
Stocker caught 27 passes for 370 yards in 2009, up from 13 catches for 139 yards in 2008. His per-catch average increased from 10.7 to 13.7 yards and he reeled in five TD passes after catching zero last season.
Jones caught 41 passes and averaged 14.9 yards per reception in 2009, up from 30 catches and 10.8 yards per catch in 2008.
Moore recorded 36 receptions and six receiving touchdowns in 2009, up from 11 receptions and two receiving TDs in 2008. Oddly enough, his per-catch average plummeted from 24.6 to 13.1.
Finally, Tennessee was a vastly better first-half offense in 2009 than in 2008. After scoring just 80 first-half points in 12 games a year ago, the Vols scored 213 first-half points through the first 12 games this season.