5. Vols’ linebackers in coverage
All year long, this has been a huge part of Tennessee football’s dramatic improvement in Josh Heupel’s second year. Yes, there are some issues in the secondary, but the linebackers dramatically improved what they do in coverage, and that has limited quarterbacks gashing them on the ground, which they did a lot last year.
A huge part of this was the return of Juwan Mitchell, and he had somewhat his breakout game last week, leading the Vols in tackles with eight and coming away with an interception. This was the Mitchell everybody expected to see when he transferred to the Vols from the Texas Longhorns before suffering a season-ending injury in early 2021.
However, Aaron Beasley has gotten significantly better in coverage as a linebacker too. Jeremy Banks is still primarily a run stopper, but he has more flexibility with the other two guys. That improvement from last year will be tested like never before this weekend, though.
Georgia has a solid passing game, a mobile quarterback and a power run game, so Tennessee football’s linebackers need to know when to close the gaps and when to get in position while defending the pass. This is a huge part of defending their elite tight end, Brock Bowers, as well. If they can do those two things, they’ll have a great chance to win this game.