6’2″ 203 pounds; Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
It’s well-documented that Pitt has no running game to speak of. Their offense goes through quarterback Kenny Pickett, who could have been an NFL Draft pick last year but is back and looking to take a major step forward. After completing 73 percent of his passes last week for 272 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, he’s off to a good start.
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Pickett’s advantage is a litany of weapons. Six of Pitt’s top seven receivers from last year, including leading receiver Jordan Addison, are back. As a result, it’s clear that the Panthers will fling the ball all over the field Saturday looking for big plays.
In response, Tennessee football’s secondary has to come through, and the most important player in that secondary is Theo Jackson. Last week, Jackson was the star at nickel, breaking up three passes and coming away with two and a half tackles for a loss along with 11 overall tackles, six of which were solo. He was all over the field against the Bowling Green Falcons.
Once again, Jackson will be key. He won’t need to be as physical up front on running plays this game, but he’ll likely be used to rush the passer some and to help with all the weapons. His multiple roles makes him the most important defensive player Saturday.