Tennessee Football: 11 Things the Vols Do Very Well
To know them is to love them, and you do so every day.
The Tennessee Volunteers Football program holds prestige as one of the founders of the SEC, and with that comes a reputation for being the best at certain attributes, or merely recognized for doing many things very well.
As fans, you can name a 100 or more items, and probably a 100 more won't be on the list.
So in a nutshell, we won't cover them all, but we can name a few of our favorites.
So here it is, the things we brag about every season, win or lose.
Filling Up the Hall of Fame
First, a couple of quick slides off the path, so to speak.
Tennessee holds the distinction of sending 19 players and three coaches to The NCAA College Football Hall of Fame.
The Vols are first in the SEC, and ninth for all-time programs. Seen above is, of course, Reggie White, who was inducted in 2002. His jersey was retired three years later.
Tennessee has a plethora of retired NFL players now, so this number should increase significantly over the next five years.
Stocking the NFL
Tennessee sits sixth behind Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, Michigan, and Nebraska with 321 players, past and present.
In the last three decades, the Vols produced have 47 players that actively played through the 2008 season.
Shown above is the workhorse of the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Witten. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl for the last six years, and the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Witten also holds the team record for receptions in a game with 15 grabs.
Creating LB Monsters
Without John Chavis at the helm, this will be put to the test over the next few years.
Justin Wilcox was able to turn undersized LB's into all-PAC 10 players, and undisciplined LB's at Boise State into pro stock after two seasons. But, he has not done that yet at Tennessee.
Anyway, let's get on to the show, shall we?
Al Wilson and Leonard Little accounted for half of Tennessee's defensive numbers in the 1998 championship season.
They were the key defensive component for Tennessee's back-to-back titles, and the hearts of Tennessee's team.
Yes, yes, well done, LSU, but before we forget, the Vols have a pretty decent record in OT wins.
Whether it be the Tigers, the Tide, the Wildcats, or the Razorbacks, the Vols still hold a few bragging rights when you reflect on last minute victories.
Tee Martin in the Swamp, Rick Clausen in the Bayou, or Eric Ainge's arm holding on for a ridiculous four OT's at Kentucky.
My favorite, of course, was Rick Clausen. The younger brother of Tennessee QB Casey Clausen, Rick transferred from LSU to Tennessee because he was doomed to ride the bench. The Vols were more than happy to have him.
Finding Talented Arms
For all of you that know Erik Ainge, you will understand my severe disappointment with his revelations regarding his addictions. I sincerely hope he can put his life back on track.
On point: In 2007, Erik put on a show that was rivaled only by Peyton Manning himself. He threw TD after after TD and the fans loved him for it.
Had he not been injured in the Notre Dame game a season earlier, he might have posted records worthy of his own street like Peyton.
Winning at Home
Tennessee has the second highest home winning record in the NCAA. The Vols sit behind Georgia Tech by only eight games.
So, with a couple of winning seasons, the Vols could soon be the sole owner of the nation's highest home winning record.
Not bad for a bunch of hillbillies that run it up the middle.
Georgia Tech has seven home games this season, three of which could be losses. Tennessee hosts eight games this season, with six potential wins.
That should close the gap for the Vols to take the record next season.
The Vols have the second longest, active winning streak over a single team. Penn State holds first with with 28 consecutive wins over Temple, and shows no signs of being broken in the foreseeable future.
Phillip Fulmer is the longest active winning coach over Kentucky with 17 wins in an unbeaten career.
The two teams have faced each other 106 times since 1893, and have only faced each other twice in overtime quarters in their school history.
Today the record stands all-time at 74W 23L 9T.
The Vols have been to the bowl dance 50 times to tie with Texas for second place in all-time bowl appearances.
Going by today's standards and qualifiers, the Vols could have qualified for another 17 bowls had invitations been extended.
It is a fact that Southern schools were seldom invited for bowl games in the '20s, '30s, and early '40s. It is easy to speculate as to why they were excluded, but I prefer to think it was more to cultural bias.
50 bowls: 26 W 24 L
Note: Tennessee is fifth in all-time bowl wins behind Alabama, USC, Penn State and Georgia.
Running the Ball Consistently
Now, this might seem a bit hypocritical considering the last few years, but Tennessee has always been able to a put a 1,000-yard rusher on the field almost every season.
It is the one constant in Tennessee's offense.
Tennessee all-time leading career rushers.
- Travis Henry 3078
- Arian Foster 2993
- James Stewart 2890
- Johnnie Jones 2852
- Jamal Lewis 2677
- Jay Graham 2609
- Curt Watson 2364
- Reggie Cobb 2360
- Travis Stephens 2335
- Cedric Houston 2334
Outscoring Their Opponents
Over the last five seasons, the Vols have outscored their opponents 27-22, factoring in the losing margin by bowl appearances and non-conference play.
Last season's scoring stats were 27.8-19.5. Tennessee also scored 50 points or more three times last season, which bumped up the average 1.2 points.
Rattling Other Teams
It's not impossible to win at Neyland, but it sure ain't easy, either.
There is nothing more teeth-chattering than to hear Rocky Top sung two dozen times while 104,000 Tennessee fans scream in between the chorus.
I'll gladly admit after arriving home upon a Florida victory, my head and ears rang for three days.
I can still remember the high dog-whistle pitch that seemed to never end. It sounded much the same way when I got smacked in the ear by a baseball when I was 12.
Now imagine being a QB trying to call an audible in the middle of it all.
ROCKY TOP WILL ALWAYS BE HOME SWEET HOME TO MEEEEEUH, GOOOOOOD OLE ROCKY TOP WOOOOOOO, ROCKY TOP TENNESSEE!!!!
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