5. Can UT-Martin generate any pass rush?
Here’s another strength of UT-Martin’s. The Skyhawks have 17 sacks on the year. While there is a ton of talk about how elite their offense is, and there should be, not enough people are talking about how the combination of this and their interceptions has allowed them to generate quite a few big plays on defense.
However, the bad news for them is that Tennessee football is starting to emerge as an elite pass blocking team. Darnell Wright led the effort to minimize Alabama’s elite pass rush last week, and part of that was him shutting down Will Anderson Jr., who is supposed to be the transcendent defensive player of our time.
Once again, it’s elite vs. elite, but the elite is relative. In that context, the Vols should have a huge advantage. However, if UT-Martin can somehow translate that pass rush to the next level, they may be able to do just enough to avoid getting blown off the field too early.
Hendon Hooker will probably not look to run as much in this game, so that could leave him vulnerable to quite a few sacks. Taking that into account, the Vols’ tackles have to perform again, but look to see if UT-Martin can do anything to make this interesting.