4. Defensive backs are adjusting to life without Bryce Thompson, Baylen Buchanan.
Part of the reason Tennessee football struggled to stop the Georgia State Panthers was the back seven could not contain their running game. They didn’t defend the pass well either, but it all came down to Dan Ellington’s rushing attack and the way he was able to torch the Vols, especially in the second half.
What people need to remember is that the Vols, just that week, realized they would have to replace Bryce Thompson with a true freshman starting cornerback. Add in the fact that they are still adjusting to Baylen Buchanan not being on the team along with a new defensive coordinator, and it was clear there would be a couple of issues.
Nigel Warrior, who is usually the glue guy, had to make up for a lot of expected passing issues that he likely is not used to. Trevon Flowers has experience but is the full-time safety now, and he is more of a pass defender anyway. Containing a rushing attack like what Georgia State had was going to be difficult when they had to make up for a couple of losses.
Another week practicing without Thompson should give Jeremy Pruitt, Derrick Ansley and the Vols’ secondary time to get things corrected. Again, they still shouldn’t have struggled last week, but there is clearly room for improvement. These guys are clearly talented. They were just out of position a lot on Saturday and got beat on a couple of key plays.