1. Defensive line rotation
There are so many surprising things about the defensive line for Tennessee football that we don’t know where to begin. For starters, we do know what Tim Banks’ scheme will be. Based on four down linemen and two linebackers, he’s running his usual nickel-heavy 4-3 base.
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That’s not shocking, but it wasn’t confirmed. What is shocking, though, is how the defensive line is organize. Tyler Baron and Byron Young co-starting at one defensive end spot with Roman Harrison backing them up was the most expected part of this. These are all edge rushers who would be outside linebackers in Jeremy Pruitt’s 3-4 scheme, so it makes sense.
Matthew Butler starting on the line also makes sense. The question was if he would start at end or defensive tackle. Well, that’s been revealed. The 6’4″ 295-pound senior will start at defensive tackle with LaTrell Bumphus backing him up. What comes afterward is more shocking, though.
Ja’Quain Blakely, in a complete surprise, won the other starting spot at defensive end. USC Trojans transfer Caleb Tremblay will back him up. At the other defensive tackle spot, Elijah Simmons won the starting job. Then, making it even more shocking, Kansas Jayhawks transfer Da’Jon Terry will back him up there.
That means that Aubrey Solomon and Kurott Garland, Tennessee football’s two most experienced returning defensive linemen from last year, are off the two-deep roster. We thought Greg Emerson and Darel Middleton transferred because of their emergence. It seems like now it was due to the emergence of the other guys. As a result, this is the most shocking part of the depth chart.