4. Defense capable of big plays
Okay, let me start by making it clear that I’m not sugarcoating all the concerns on defense from the spring. Even with all the limitations, from suspensions to injuries to players just being held out, the struggles were blatant. That was particularly true in Tennessee football’s spring game and will have to be addressed in fall camp.
Still, we can’t ignore how limited the Vols were. At the same time, the defense showed it was capable of making big plays in key moments throughout the spring, and that’s going to be a big deal this year given the tempo Josh Heupel wants to run on offense.
This didn’t just show up in practice and the scrimmages. It showed up in the spring game. Don’t forget that, despite all the defensive woes, Warren Burrell was still able to come away with a pick-six. A few of those throughout the year could offset what looks like will be inevitable struggles on that side of the ball.
Once everybody gets healthy, there will probably be more opportunities for such big plays. If the defense makes up for its issues with such plays, it could do just enough to allow Heupel’s offense to take shape. That’s enough of an encouraging sign.