4. College Football News Preview 2020: Tennessee Volunteers Defense 3 Things To Know
– The defense held its own, especially as the season went on. The pass rush was good, there were plenty of interceptions, and the D as a whole allowed just 335 yards and 22 points per game.
The linebacking corps takes the biggest talent hit with leading tackler Daniel Bituli gone along with pass rusher Darrell Taylor, but lots and lots of relatively untested options are back around second-leading tackler Henry To’o To’o. Give it time and this will be a good group, but it’ll take a while to figure out the right rotation.
– The line has to find pass rushers. Overall, the defense was able to get into the backfield without too much of a problem, but most of the heavy lifting came from the linebackers.
6-7, 305-pound senior Darel Middleton has to come back from a knee injury, and former Michigan transfer Aubrey Solomon has to do more on the other side. The big young bodies on the inside should form an excellent rotation.
– Enough good defensive backs return to be okay, but not having main man Nigel Warrior around at safety hurts. Senior Shawn Shamburger is back at one safety/nickel spot after finishing fifth on the team with 47 tackles, and Jaylen McCollough is back after a strong freshman season.
Junior Bryce Thompson should be the team’s best corner, but that distinction might change once star recruit Key Lawrence gets his chance.
NEXT: College Football News Preview 2020: Top Tennessee Volunteers Players