The defense is where our real focus is this week. Tennessee football is undergoing a transition to the 3-4, as we have said all offseason, and it was not a pretty picture with the scheme in their opener. The Vols gave up over 400 yards and five touchdowns to Will Grier and the West Virginia Mountaineers through the air.
Now, this week, they may be facing an FCS opponent. But this is an FCS opponent that likes to air it out. In their opener last week, the East Tennessee State Buccaneers threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns behind the arm of Logan Marchi.
Marchi is dangerous as a transfer from the Temple Owls who had nine touchdowns and 1,658 yards through only seven games last year before missing the second half of the season. Meanwhile, ETSU ran for 238 yards in their opener behind Quay Holmes.
Simply put, this balanced attack that Randy Sanders is putting together will be extremely difficult to defend. And with over 521 overall yards of offense, they can be a threat everywhere. That’s where Nigel Warrior comes in.
The junior safety is supposed to be the one elite guy in the secondary. He missed a couple of plays last week, but he is still the best player overall back there. Warrior has to do his job to make sure ETSU doesn’t get anything going. He’s got to stop the passing game for sure and help with the ground game. Otherwise, this could become scary.