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By The Numbers: The Josh Heupel Effect

Around this time last year, I wrote a piece on Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure on Rocky Top and compared him to former HC’s of the last 12 years.

In this piece, I will obviously be doing the same thing but instead will be comparing first-year HC Josh Heupel to Tennessee’s former HC’s.

Josh Heupel is off to a good start so far with a 4-2 record and a 2-1 start in conference play and will be playing in front of a sellout crowd on Saturday against Ole Miss.

This piece will be comparing records, offensive rankings, and defensive rankings between Heupel, Pruitt, Butch Jones, Derek Dooley, and Lane Kiffin.

Record through first six games

Josh Heupel has coached 6 games so far as Tennessee’s Head Coach.

In his six games, He has won 4 games and has lost 2 games. His wins are over Bowling Green, Tennessee Tech, Missouri, and South Carolina.

In Jeremy Pruitt’s first six games, he held a 3-3 record with wins over East Tennessee State, UTEP, and Auburn.

Butch Jones held a record of 3-3 in his first six games with wins over Austin Peay, Western Kentucky, and South Alabama.

Derek Dooley had the worst record of the four in his six games with a record of 2-4 with wins over Tennessee-Martin and UAB.

Lane Kiffin held a record of 3-3 after his first six games with wins over WKU, Ohio, and Georgia.

  • 2021 Josh Heupel: 4-2 (Wins: Bowling Green (38-6), Tennessee Tech (56-0), Missouri (62-24), South Carolina (45-20) ) (Losses: Pitt (34-41), Florida (14-38) ) 
    • Wins by an average of 37.75 points
  • 2018 Jeremy Pruitt: 3-3 (Wins: East Tennessee State (59-3), UTEP (24-0), Auburn (31-24) ) (Losses: West Virginia (14-40), Florida (21-47), Georgia (12-38) ) 
    • Won by an average of 29 points
  • 2013 Butch Jones: 3-3 (Wins: Austin Peay (45-0), WKU (52-20), South Alabama (31-24) )  (Losses: Oregon (14-59), Florida (17-31), Georgia (31-34) ) 
    • Won by an average of 28 points
  • 2010 Derek Dooley: 2-4 (Wins: UT-Martin (50-0), UAB (32-29) ) (Losses: Oregon (13-48), Florida (17-31), LSU (14-16), Georgia (14-41) )
    • won by an average of 26.5
  • 2009 Lane Kiffin 3-3 (Wins: WKU (63-0), Ohio (34-23), Georgia (45-19) )  (Losses: UCLA (15-19), Florida (13-23), Auburn (22-26) )
    • Won by an average of 33.3 points

One of the surprising things I found was that Josh Heupel holds the best record out of the 5 coaches after their first six games and the fact that he has the highest win point average.

One could argue that Heupel had an easier first six games than Dooley, Pruitt, Jones, and Kiffin but it is still impressive nonetheless given the circumstances.

Offensive Rankings

1st Quarter Scoring

  • Josh Heupel: (17.4 points) 1st in the country
  • Jeremy Pruitt: (2.5 points) 125th in the country
  • Butch Jones: (6.5 points) 62nd in the country
  • Derek Dooley: (7.3 points) 37th in the country
  • Lane Kiffin: (6.1 points) 53rd in the country

One of the struggles Tennessee has had over the last 10 years is that the offense struggled to get off to a fast start.

To say that issue has been solved under Heupel is an understatement.

Heupel’s face pace style of offense throws defenses off and opens up opportunities for Tennessee to put points on the board.

Now while Heupel has only coached 6 games and these numbers for the rest of the coaches are season averages, it is safe to say that Heupel blows all of these coaches out of the water in this category, and that will not change anytime soon.

Total Offense Yards Per Game

  • Josh Heupel: (480.2 YPG) 18th in the country
  • Jeremy Pruitt: (326.4 YPG) 122nd in the country
  • Butch Jones: (353.3 YPG) 104th in the country
  • Derek Dooley: (363.8 YPG) 77th in the country
  • Lane Kiffin: (383.5 YPG) 60th in the country

What makes this even more impressive for Heupel is that he can have his offense put up these types of numbers without any of his recruits.

We knew Heupel was considered an offensive guru, but his offense has been impressive so far.

Offensive Points Per Game

  • Josh Heupel: (41.5 PPG) 7th in the country
  • Jeremy Pruitt: (22.8 PPG) 110th in the country
  • Butch Jones: (23.8 PPG) 98th in the country
  • Derek Dooley: (27.0 PPG) 58th in the country
  • Lane Kiffin: (29.3 PPG) 43rd in the country

Once again, this should not come as a surprise to anyone that Heupel leads in this category, especially compared to Jeremy Pruitt and Butch Jones.

Dooley’s ranking is so high because they scored 50 points or more against Tennessee-Martin, Memphis, and Ole Miss.

If you take those games out, Dooley’s offense only averaged 19.9 points per game in his 1st season.

Defensive Rankings

in this section, we will compare each coach 1st seasons defenses and will be split into three sections: allowed points, allowed yards per game, and Turnovers per game

Points Allowed

  • Josh Heupel: (21.5 PPG) 37th in the country
  • Jeremy Pruitt: (27.9 PPG) 77th in the country
  • Butch Jones: (29.0 PPG) 79th in the country
  • Derek Dooley: (25.1 PPG) 56th in the country
  • Lane Kiffin: (22.2 PPG) 37th in the country

This stat comparison was the biggest surprise out of all of them. One of the many concerns that Vol fans (myself included) was whether Heupel could have a decent defense.

Well, not only is his defenses the highest ranked out of these five coaches, but Heupel’s defense leads the country in Tackles For Loss as well.

Yards Allowed Per Game

  • Josh Heupel: (344.3 Yards Allowed) 46th in the country
  • Jeremy Pruitt: (378.1 Yards Allowed) 49th in the country
  • Butch Jones: (418.4 Yards Allowed) 84th in the country
  • Derek Dooley: (382.2 Yards Allowed) 69th in the country
  • Lane Kiffin: (318.8 Yards Allowed) 22nd in the country

This is the first category where Heupel did not lead. It should not surprise that Kiffin’s defense leads in this category, especially since he had a defense with 2 1st round picks with Eric Berry and Dan Williams.

Turnovers Per Game

  • Josh Heupel: (1.5) 49th in the country
  • Jeremy Pruitt: (1.3) 97th in the country
  • Butch Jones: (2.0) 27th in the country
  • Derek Dooley: (2.2) 26th in the country
  • Lane Kiffin: (1.8) 55th in the country

It should not come as a shock that Heupel is in the middle of the defensive categories.

But overall, Heupel is doing far better statically than any of the 5 coaches we have had in the last 12 years.

If Heupel can continue at the rate he is at, Tennessee will be more than competitive again.

Tennessee will be a threat in college football.

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