4. Limited depth in the trenches
Obviously, the defensive line wasn’t expected to perform well this year. Almost all of the major players up front are seniors, and they were largely limited during the spring. LaTrell Bumphus was one of the players who was banged up, and Darel Middleton didn’t play in the spring game. The same holds true for younger linemen in Elijah Simmons and Greg Emerson.
However, even with all of those players sitting out, Tennessee football’s performance in the trenches could have been better than it was. That’s a sign of major depth issues, and with nobody in particular standing out, it’s a big concern not just for this year but for 2022 and beyond with so many players up front in their final year of eligibility.
On the offensive line, we mentioned the lack of spark in the running game. With so many transfers, it was expected that more names would pop out during spring ball, but honestly, former walk-on Dayne Davis was the only surprise name who received multiple mentions.
Cade Mays is obviously an elite linemen, but with Riley Locklear banged up in the spring and the losses of Trey Smith, Brandon Kennedy, Wanya Morris and Jahmir Johnson, more players needed to stand out in the spring. That they didn’t suggests major depth issues on the line of scrimmage, which you can’t have in the SEC.