One interception. One month of the regular season remaining.
Practically no one within or surrounding Tennessee's football program thought All-America safety Eric Berry would enter November with only one pick and still be searching for a suddenly elusive NCAA record.
After all, Berry entered the season just 15 yards shy of breaking former Florida State defensive back Terrell Buckley's NCAA record for interception return yardage of 501 yards.
Based on previous experience, most thought that miniscule amount of yardage would be surpassed in the first quarter of the season opener against Western Kentucky. Eight games into the season, Berry's quest continues.
A couple of factors have contributed to Berry's falloff in interceptions after he reeled in 12 in his first two seasons. His one pick this season was a diving catch against Florida that netted no return yardage.
First, Berry's role has changed significantly. With former coach Phillip Fulmer at the helm, Berry was more often lined up downfield and often roamed like a free safety. Now, he is much more like a strong safety and, at times, a linebacker.
Berry is ranked 11th in the SEC with 7.1 tackles per game. Every player ahead of him on the top tackler list is a linebacker. Berry looks like a linebacker at times, as he often lines up inside the tackle box.
"Has that made Eric's interceptions numbers suffer a little bit? Yeah, maybe it has," UT coach Lane Kiffin said. "Everybody wants to see one interception a game. Well, one interception a game, maybe 40 yards downfield, isn't nearly as valuable as all the tackles Eric is making around the line. There's a reason for having him down (close to the line of scrimmage) so much."
Berry is still respected at UT and beyond. This week he was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's best college defensive back, and the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented to the outstanding national defensive player of the year.
And while Berry's interception stat line may be down, the rest of his stats are up. He is second on the team with 57 tackles and leads in special teams stops with seven. He leads UT in passes defended with seven and has five tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
With that, UT's defense has continued to improve throughout the season, ranking 13th in total yardage and 25th in rush defense.
Yet it's more than UT's coaches who have limited Berry's interception opportunities. Trumpeted as a Heisman Trophy candidate by UT coming into the season, every opponent knew who was wearing the No. 14 jersey.
"Totally different ends of the spectrum," Berry said when asked of the opportunities he's had in 2009 season compared to previous seasons. "Last year a lot of people were still throwing at me. My freshman year, of course, I was a freshman. It's totally changed."
Freshman Janzen Jackson, who plays more of a traditional, deep safety role for the Vols, has seen offenses shy away from Berry.
"A lot of quarterbacks don't want to be the record-setting quarterback," Jackson said. "They throw away from him. They run away from him because they don't want him around the ball because he's a playmaker."
There was almost an interception against Georgia that was actually a fumble. UT and its fans were so ready to see the record fall that a congratulatory message was mistakenly aired on the big screen as the crowd roared.
There have been a couple of other instances when Berry second-guessed himself for not being more aggressive, perhaps a bit out of rhythm in the secondary given his new role.
There might be more opportunities coming before the season - and likely Berry's college career - is complete. If Berry forgoes his senior season to enter the NFL draft as most expect, the Georgia native has four or five more games to etch his name into the history books.
Saturday's opponent, Memphis, ranks 104th in the NCAA's Bowl Subdivision with 12 interceptions thrown.
UT's remaining opponents aren't much better. Ole Miss ranks 114th with 13 interceptions thrown. Vanderbilt ranks 45th with seven. Kentucky ranks 67th with nine. There will be an undetermined opponent forthcoming in a bowl game if UT is eligible.
Berry has never been one to complain, but did admit this week that the seemingly never-ending quest for the record can be frustrating.
"It can be if you let it get to you; but, as long as we're doing good as a team, I'm perfectly fine with it," he said.
Perhaps other Vols can help Berry. If UT's other defenders make plays in the secondary, could more offenses be forced to throw Berry's way?
"That's whatever a team has in their game plan," Berry said. "All I can do is control what I can control. And I can control running to the ball. I can control hustling to the ball and making the plays that do come my way."
Berry and his teammates might not admit it, but they know their leader's chances are dwindling along with the season schedule. Some seem almost in denial that Berry might not achieve what was had been considered a given.
"I don't want to imagine that," Jackson said. "I'm sure that's probably on his mind but I'm sure the first thing on his mind is winning and winning out. Good things happen to good people."