What You Need To Know About The Tennessee Defense
– And here comes the big change. No way, no how, no chance does a Jeremy Pruitt-coached team finish 81st in the nation in total defense. He and defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer – fresh off of turning Georgia’s linebacking corps into a dominant force – are about to make this D hum.
Welcome to the 3-4, welcome to more pressure in the backfield, and welcome to a tough guy production that was sorely missing throughout last year. That also means the D has to come up with a few hybrid types who can do a little of everything on the outside.
Just assume that 6-4, 254-pound junior Darrell Taylor will become a factor in his new role – he’ll double his three sacks from last year – and veteran linebackers Daniel Bituli and Quart’e Sapp will be stars.
– It was a big help as Alabama’s defensive coordinator to have Crimson Tide talent to work with, but Tennessee isn’t even close to having the same linemen for Sherrer to utilize.
308-pound senior Shy Tuttle is a good one to start with, but the defensive tackles have to emerge in a hurry. It’ll happen, but the coaching staff has to find the right front three to work around.
– Yeah, the Tennessee pass defense finished third in the nation, but that’s because everyone was too busy running the ball. Now both starting corners are gone, and the coaching staff is tinkering around with a few options to find a decent rotation.
The safeties should be solid despite the early departure of Rashaan Gaulden. Nigel Warrior and Micah Abernathy return after finishing second and third, respectively, in tackles.
Biggest Key To The Tennessee Defense
It’s run defense time in Tennessee. The Volunteers were hammered by Georgia Tech’s option attack for 535 yards and six scores in the opener. By comparison, things got a little better.
However, the D gave up 200 yards or more in six of the last eight games, and allowed 194 to South Carolina in one of the others.
Teams were ripping off yards in chunks against a D line that played like it was on roller skates at times. The change to a 3-4 should do a bit more to lock down the interior, but the defensive line has to go from tissue paper to brick wall in one offseason.