The last 10 years have proven that Philip Fulmer’s Tennessee teams were better when David Cutcliffe was the offensive coordinator. But few, if any, would have thought that Cutcliffe’s new team would have a better record than his old squad five weeks into the season. Yet that’s exactly how the 3-2 Blue Devils find themselves—or at least found themselves before a 27-0 thumping from Georgia Tech—as 2-3 Tennessee struggles in the SEC, with more hits likely to come soon.
The Volunteers travel to No. 10 Georgia this weekend bogged down by a debilitating batch of statistics. ESPN’s Chris Low, the SEC blogger, writes that Cutcliffe never lost to Georgia when he was at Tennessee, and his offense was held to under four touchdowns just once in nine games. In games at Athens, Ga., moreover, Cutcliffe’s unit averaged 35.4 points in five games. In three contests without him, that number has dropped to 14.
Take a look at Duke and Tennessee’s scoring numbers this year, and you’ll see that Cutcliffe, and perhaps not Fulmer, was the mind behind the Volunteer dynasty (listed as Duke/UT):
- SCORING PER GAME: 24.6/18.0
- PASSING PER GAME: 205.6/171.2
- TOTAL OFFENSE: 324.4/317.6
- TOUCHDOWNS: 15/11
Sure, Tennessee gets roughed up in the SEC while Duke pals around in the ACC, right? Not so fast. The Volunteers have played Florida and Auburn, but this site ranks Duke’s strength of schedule No. 10 in the country, while the Volunteers toil at No. 33. Maybe it’s some Cutcliffe magic, after all.
—by Ben Cohen