Defensive line: A+
Da’Jon Terry and Omari Thomas each had a sack. Byron Young had one and a half sacks, and Tyler Baron assisted on one of those. LaTrell Bumphus and Kurott Garland also helped bring pressure. Tennessee football shut down Kentucky’s run game with its play up front outside of one drive, so this unit gets a perfect grade.
Chris Rodriguez Jr.’s one elite drive that ended a touchdown is the only reason this isn’t an A or A+. Outside of that, though, the unit was fine. Juwan Mitchell had an interception and led everybody in tackles, Aaron Beasley had a tackle for a loss, and Jeremy Banks was effective too.
How could we not tout this group? Will Levis is an NFL quarterback, and they held him to under 100 yards passing. Doneiko Slaughter moved to cornerback and had an interception while laying the hit that resulted in Mitchell’s interception. Brandon Turnage also had a pick. Jaylen McCollough and Trevon Flowers each had a pass deflection. Wesley Walker had three tackles for a loss.
Overall defensive grade: A+
Sure, Kentucky’s offense is limited, but Tennessee football holding them to just 205 yards given the system Josh Heupel runs is incredible. Doing that while forcing three turnovers makes it clear that this unit deserves an A+ for its performances. This is the best in the Heupel era.