6’4″ 320 pounds
It was hard to know who should step up for Tennessee football on defense in this game. Trevon Flowers anchors the secondary, which was the atrocious part of last week, but he actually wasn’t the problem. Cornerbacks were the issue. Linebackers struggled without Jeremy Banks, but they weren’t horrendous by any stretch.
Everything just came down to awful cornerback play, and honestly, there’s no remedy on the back end. All the Vols can hope for is what they didn’t have last week: pressure up front. UT has to win the line of scrimmage. That includes Tyler Baron and Byron Young being aggressive around the edges, but it also means taking away the run.
All of that comes down to the defensive tackles, and Omari Thomas is the guy to handle that. Thomas has been a massive force for most of the year, and while he and LaTrell Bumphus are pretty elite together, they didn’t get the necessary push up front last week.
That issue resulted in the pass rush not being as effective, which forced the cornerbacks to actually play, which they can’t do. As a result, if the defense is actually going to be serviceable and not just air in this one, it all has to start with Thomas up front.