4. Quarterback containment issues returned on defense.
This is probably due to the fact that they didn’t prepare for Brady Cook the way they did Anthony Richardson or Jayden Daniels, but Tennessee football’s linebackers reverted to issues that plagued them last year in quarterback containment. Now, the linebackers were great on designed runs, to be fair. The problem was with Cook specifically.
For the game, Cook had 16 carries for 106 yards. He’s the reason Mizzou finished with 37 carries for 172 yards. That means outside of Cook’s running, the Vols held them to 21 carries for 66 yards, barely three yards a carry. Cook’s mobility is what had Mizzou making this interesting through the early part of the third quarter.
Now, this wasn’t a permanent issue, to be fair. The Vols did seem to adjust after Mizzou cut it to 28-24. As we mentioned, they never scored again. On the next drive Mizzou had the ball, after the Vols went up 35-24, Cook had one 11-yard run. He never did anything again on the ground except for a meaningless five-yard run way later in the game.
As a result, we don’t want to put too much criticism on the safeties and linebackers for Cook’s play. It just didn’t seem to be in the game plan, and once they adjusted, they were fine. Even before then, they consistently shut down running plays on 3rd and 1 and 2nd and 1. Still, Cook’s mobility made this an issue at times.