3. Will Grier is horrible under pressure, and Tennessee football can bring it.
We’ve mentioned this a couple of times in our preview for the week, but it’s worth bringing up again. Will Grier is terrible under pressure. In fact, Pro Football Focus last year noted that he was among the worst passers in the Big 12 under pressure in 2017.
As a result, Tennessee football has the perfect formula to knock him off his rhythm. If the Vols are truly strong anywhere, it’s in the pass rush. The conversion to the 3-4 has given them two edge rushers in Jonathan Kongbo and Darrell Taylor who were elite defensive ends before. Jeremy Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer only moved them because of how dangerous they can be on the outside.
Meanwhile, up front, Kyle Phillips was once a five-star defensive end who can now finally live up to the hype. There’s not a true nose tackle, but Shy Tuttle and Alexis Johnson command respect at defensive tackle. Simply put, the Vols’ front seven is designed for pressure. Even inside linebacker Daniel Bituli specializes in specifically rushing the passer.
So while the Vols secondary may struggle to be in position at lots of times throughout this game, they may have things made a lot easier on them. The front seven is capable of getting to Grier with its talent. Grier is horrible at throwing accurately while under duress. That could leave a lot of hanging passes for the defensive backs.
In 2015, Tennessee football gave up five fourth downs to Grier when they lost to him and the Florida Gators. The final one, which gave Florida the late lead, was a horrible call by John Jancek to have two guys in spy and only rush three. This time, they need to pressure Grier from the outside as much as possible. That is how they can stop him.