3. With so much roster turnover, how are players adjusting to everything?
Part of the defensive struggles could be attributed to this. It’s no secret that Tennessee football was hit hardest in the transfer portal. The Vols lost their best offensive weapon in Eric Gray, their second best offensive weapon in Ty Chandler, one of their top linemen in Wanya Morris and another solid lineman in Jahmir Johnson. That was just on offense.
On defense, they lost Shawn Shamburger, their best defensive back in 2019 before he missed most of 2020, and they were depleted at linebacker with Henry To’o To’o, Quavaris Crouch and J.J. Peterson all entering the portal. Edge rushers Deandre Johnson and Kivon Bennett have also left along with rising star defensive back Key Lawrence.
Simply put, this team was wrecked in the portal, and they were already severely limited in the spring. Now, they have added lots of new transfers to offset those losses, but most of those players weren’t there in the spring.
Combine this with the switch from a pro-style to a spread on offense and a 3-4 to a nickel-heavy 4-3 on defense, and everybody will need to adjust. Josh Heupel needs to address how well the players are adjusting, and Alontae Taylor and Velus Jones Jr. could both talk about this as well.