4. Will the Tennessee defensive line get any push?
Let’s be fair for a minute. Tennessee football was naturally going to struggle on the defensive line. The Vols had to replace all three starters last year in Alexis Johnson, Shy Tuttle and Kyle Phillips, and their only returning contributor, Emmit Gooden, suffered a season-ending injury right at the start of fall camp. It was the worst of everything.
As a result, they were not going to easily replace last year’s strongest unit. Sure, Aubrey Solomon was cleared to go, and junior college transfers Savion Williams and Darel Middleton bring some hype. But none of those guys have any significant levels of experience playing FBS ball, even Solomon during his time with the Michigan Wolverines.
So we should have seen that coming. The question is if it has improved after one week. The unit should develop somewhat, and a BYU team that only rushed for 92 yards and allowed six tackles for a loss may be the team to fine-tune things a bit. Then again, they only allowed one sack, so they could be better than we think as well.
If somebody can emerge for the Vols up front and do it soon, then we may see a dramatically improved team on Saturday. But should what happened last week continue to happen throughout the early portion of this year, then Rocky Top will have some major issues and could be 1-3 heading into the bye week. Somebody’s got to emerge on the defensive line.