1. No proven experience at cornerback
This is another difficult part of the transition to the 3-4 defense. The secondary struggles significantly. That was especially the case for the unit in 2012. And given the nature of this team, it’s likely to become an issue again.
Tennessee football lacks size at nose tackle. The inside linebackers and safeties are naturally going to struggle in this new system. But all those units have proven performers, even if they don’t have the proper depth. Cornerback, meanwhile, is a completely different story.
The Vols are learning a new system and lost four guys from last year. This includes Rashaan Gaulden, arguably the best player from 2017, along with Justin Martin, Emmanuel Moseley and the grossly underused Shaq Wiggins.
Now, cornerback play is wide open for the Vols. Combine that with the transition to the 3-4 already in place, and things could get ugly. The Vols were horrible in the spring defending the pass thanks to this issue, and that may continue.
Freshmen like Alontae Taylor are already making a splash here by default. That’s actually not a good thing. He, Baylen Buchanan, and Marquill Osborne join a host of guys that will be fighting for spots. And we truly don’t know who is going to step up.
The worst part about this for Tennessee football is that their season-opener is against the West Virginia Mountaineers. That’s a team that runs the air raid and has the perfect quarterback for it in Will Grier, who torched the Vols while playing for the Florida Gators way back in 2015. How are these cornerbacks supposed to handle that? Well, it’s a question that has no answer. And it’s part of why this is the top issue for Rocky Top.