There's startling statistical evidence that Tennessee's offense is greatly improved over last season.
I will now pause while you pick your jaw off the floor.
Don't take my word for it.
Check the NCAA statistics.
Under the category for total offense, which UT fans have become accustomed to reading from the bottom up, you will find the Vols nestled into the middle of the pack, ranking a respectably mediocre 56th.
In offensive hotbeds like Gainesville, Fla., or Lubbock, Texas - where 500-yard games are routine - a 56th ranking would be cause for panic. Here, it qualifies as drastic improvement for a program that ranked 115th in total offense last season.
No. 56 looks even better when you scan further down the total-offense rankings.
Ole Miss is 59th. Oregon is 64th. Miami is 67th. Ohio State is 68th. Iowa is 74th. LSU is 99th.
All six are in this week's top-25 polls. Ohio State and LSU are in the top 10.
Maybe UT fans also would be encouraged to know that Georgia, Saturdays' opponent, ranks 86th in total offense.
Or maybe, they're numb to numbers after a 5-7 season in 2008 and a 2-3 start this year.
Despite the rise in ranking, I'm not hearing a lot of, "Man, I can't believe how much better our offense is than last year." Instead, my recent e-mails indicate many fans view this offense as a continuation of last year's glacier-like attack.
I empathize with your assessment.
You see passes flying hither, there and yon. You see the ball bouncing off the hands and heads of receivers.
And you begin to wonder if a UT receiver is as likely to be knocked unconscious by a forward pass as he is to embrace it in the end zone.
Even when UT's offense is succeeding, there's a sense of impending doom, much of which relates to the track record of quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who can't get through a game without a turnover.
Crompton threw with uncharacteristic accuracy in the fourth quarter of UT's 26-22 loss to Auburn on Saturday night. If you tuned in at midstream of that comeback, you might have wondered if you were watching a UT rerun from the 1990s.
Not that Saturday's finish should revive your optimism in the offense. It was preceded by too many mishaps.
And its limitations are obvious.
Crompton is a below-average SEC quarterback, and one quarter or one game won't change that. The shortcomings of UT's receivers are just as apparent.
If you want to be optimistic about UT's passing game, you can hope that freshman like Nu'Keese Richardson and Marsalis Teague will have more of an impact in the second half of the season.
You also can take heart in this staff's successful recruiting.
In the meantime, maybe you can find solace in a few more statistics.
Coach Lane Kiffin and his staff have made a commitment to improving the running game.
The improvement is apparent despite a season-ending injury to center Josh McNeil, and the loss of injured guard Vladimir Richard for the last two games.
UT ranks 35th nationally in rushing.
Senior tailback Montario Hardesty leads the SEC and ranks eighth nationally in rushing.
His 115-yard per-game average is only 7 yards fewer than what UT averaged as a team last season.
It's just not as noticeable as a pass bouncing off a receiver's head.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com.