3. Pressure brought by the Vols front seven
Let’s call it what it is. Tennessee football was horrible in this area and highly disappointing last Saturday against the West Virginia Mountaineers. We said at the start of the season the front seven would be the strength of the Vols defense, particularly with the edge rushers and defensive tackles, based on the talent of those players.
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When you have a rough transition to a 3-4 defense, your defensive backs and inside linebackers are the ones who struggle. The inside linebackers struggled outside of Darrin Kirkland Jr. The secondary struggled as expected. The tackles tried to make up for it by making some plays.
But the edge rushers were flat-out terrible. Jonathan Kongbo and Darrell Taylor should be ashamed of themselves. The Vols needed them to get pressure on Will Grier since Grier is the worst quarterback in the Big 12 when under pressure. They got nothing, and that’s why WVU’s offense had its way with Rocky Top.
Against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers, UT should have it much easier. However, they still have to be able to get pressure. As we’ve said, Logan Marchi is not a bad quarterback. He is proven at the FBS level, and the best way to stop a guy like him is to get pressure.
If Tennessee’s outside rushers become what we expected them to become in this game, things will be in control early. They’ll then be able to turn to young guys to get some experience. But if they don’t then the Vols could suffer some major frustrations on Saturday.