In anticipation of the restart of Tennessee football, in anticipation of an opening game in September, in anticipation of a much-improved offense and a decisive victory over Charlotte, I have launched research of scoring outbursts.
My third call for perspective brought a warning: Do not take Charlotte lightly.
OK, let’s just stick with numbers. The 49ers last season allowed 45 or more points in four losses to big boys. If that is correctly labeled as defense, it remains suspect.
Do not expect Tennessee to score 70. That is the record for the modern era (starting in 1937). Seventy points were inflicted upon visiting Louisiana-Monroe in 2000. The Vols scored 49 in the first half, jumped around too much during intermission and appeared less effective thereafter.
Think about this: 10 touchdowns by seven Volunteers – Travis Henry, Travis Stephens and Cedrick Wilson two each, Leonard Scott, Eric Parker, David Martin and Andre Lott (30-yard run with captured fumble) one each.
Alex Walls kicked 10 extra points. Freshman Casey Clausen completed 12 of 15 passes. Tennessee zoomed past 500 yards in total offense.
Louisiana-Monroe gained 33 yards rushing. Louisiana-Monroe kicked a field goal. Poor Louisiana-Monroe probably felt a little better at 70-3 than 70-0.
There was a game, a little before my time, when Tennessee scored 104. American Temperance University was the victim. That doesn’t say much for moderation.
In another time and place, Tennessee defeated King College, 101-0, and Cumberland, 101-0.
When Tennessee was just learning to play, it lost four consecutive games by a combined 250-0. There were no offensive outbursts by the locals.
General Robert R. Neyland tried to avoid running up scores. He did not want to anger opponents and create grudges. He was always looking ahead to the next meeting.
Bowden Wyatt’s 1960 team scored 62 on Tampa. It couldn’t help itself. John Majors’ 1987 Vols hung 55 on Ole Miss and a few more on a few weaker foes.
For some reason, I can’t remember much about the Derek Dooley era. I do recall his Vols set a total offense record of 718 yards against Troy in 2012. Troy also set a record, 721 yards, most ever allowed by a UT defense. The score was 55-48. Good guys scored last.
Phillip Fulmer teams racked up several SEC opponents. In his first year, 1993, the Vols thrashed South Carolina, 55-3. That was when Heath Shuler was SEC player of the year, James Stewart, Charley Garner and Aaron Hayden were very good runners and Billy Williams, Cory Fleming, Craig Faulkner and Joey Kent were fine receivers.
The next season ended on a high – 52-0 over Kentucky and 65-0 at Vanderbilt. There was no mercy rule.
A better measurement of offensive outbursts might be points produced against nationally ranked opponents. In 1980, the Vols went to Auburn and skinned the Tigers, 42-0. Auburn fans booed their team. The romp backfired on Tennessee. It triggered the dismissal of Doug Barfield as Auburn coach and brought in Pat Dye.
In 1990, Tennessee ripped ninth-ranked Florida, 45-3. There was a special treat: Tight end Von Reeves threw a TD pass to Carl Pickens.
The 1994 Vols scored 21 against Virginia Tech in the second quarter and 45 in the Gator Bowl show. Stewart ran for three touchdowns and turned a pitchout and what looked like a sweep into a scoring pass to Kendrick Jones.
In that segment of Fulmer’s career, Georgia simply could not contain the Vols. In 2006, in Athens, Tennessee trailed Georgia by 17 in the second quarter but ended up scoring 51 and winning by 18. The Bulldogs failed to stop the Erik Ainge-led attack.
Ah yes, those were the days.
Tennessee 2020 will look better on offense than last year’s team. Count on it. Improved line play will be the primary reason. The discovery of Eric Gray will make a difference. Jarrett Guarantano will be noticeably better or somebody else will be playing quarterback.
There is another significant if-if-if. Josh Palmer projects as the No. 1 receiver. Who else emerges when will be a vital factor. Look for Ramel Keyton, Cedric Tillman, Brandon Johnson, Deangelo Gibbs and Velus Jones in the tournament. There might be space for a fast freshman.
Very important in this search for a scoring outburst is year 2 with Jim Chaney as coordinator.
Marvin West welcomes reader comments or questions. His address is firstname.lastname@example.org