Anonymous Tennessee Defense Surpasses All Expectations Midway Into 2021

Jesse simonton | 4 hours ago

Water bottles, beer cans, vape pins, oh my god !!!

While the insane actions of a few hundred fans made the post-game headlines following Tennessee’s 31-26 loss to No.13 Ole Miss, something that happened during the game deserves to be remembered. to be noted for moving forward: Flights can play a bit in defense in 2021.

The Rebels managed to run over 100 snaps in the win, but Lane Kiffin’s dynamic offense averaged just 5.0 yards per game (his second-lowest total of the season) and didn’t. scored only 7 points after halftime. The real Saturday scares so many Flights fans who were worried about this weekend? Well, through 7 games, Tim Banks‘ cobblestone unit seems to have allayed those fears.

We will know in the next few weeks against No. 4 Alabama and No. 1 Georgia if the Tennessee defense is only “OK” or really legitimate, but given the current roster, a group that was stripped of studs massively exceeded expectations.

“We were probably the thinnest football team in America when we started,” coach Josh Heupel said after Saturday’s game.

“But the fighting and the competitive spirit inside our locker room, the desire to play for the guy next to you because you love him and are up for anything. We are developing and growing in the right way.

With “worse players” and less acclaimed staff, the Vols are a significantly better defense in 2021 compared to 2020 – in virtually every category.

Under former head coach Jeremy Pruitt and coordinator Derek Ansley last season, the Vols allowed 5.83 yards per game. They had a strong running defense (3.68 yards per carry) paired with a leaky secondary (8.5 yards per allowed attempt). They were mostly safe from the havoc (just 20 sacks) and forced few turnovers (10 total in 10 games).

Yet despite a list pilloried by the transfer portal – UT had to replace their top tackle (now Alabama linebacker Henry To’o To’o), 2nd best linebacker (now State linebacker). Michigan Quavaris Crouch), top 2 passer (Arkansas State defensive end Kivon Bennett and Miami edge Deandre Johnson), his No.1 cornerback (Bryce Thompson) and other notable contributors this offseason – Banks produced a competitive unit without a name.

Most, including yours, thought Tennessee would have one of the SEC’s worst defenses this fall, but in a simpler picture, the Vols think less and play fast. And it works.

Tennessee leads the SEC in loss tackles (62). He has more interceptions (8-5) than he did all last season. The Vols are tougher against the run (3.54 yards per carry) and pass (6.3 yards per attempt). They are mediocre in 3rd tries, but they are certainly better in this key area than they were a year ago (40.7% opponent conversion rate vs. 47.9%).

Under Banks, enigmatic junior inside linebacker Jeremy Banks delivered on his promise as a top rookie, leading the team in loss tackles (9.0) and sacks (4.5). Veteran defensive backs Theo Jackson and Alontae Taylor, who both had far too many ups and downs with previous staff, have become stable and consistent performers.

Perhaps most impressive, Tennessee’s new staff have found helpful ways to use the tools they have to work with. Linebackers Solon Page III and Aaron Beasley were deemed ill-equipped (i.e. too small, not good enough) to play in Pruitt’s 3-4 scheme, but their speed worked very well in the hybrid scheme. by Banks. The freshman coordinator has also found some helpful ways to get guys like defensive lineman Ja’Quain Blakely – a super-senior with 15 career total tackles coming in in 2021 who already has 20 tackles and 4.0. for the loss this fall – and outside linebacker Roman Harrison more involved.

No one is surprised that Heupel and his new staff produced an attack capable of fireworks and fun. The air raid works, especially against the poor defenses (see: Pitt, South Carolina, and Mizzou), but the defensive progress of the first year is something few – if any – expected. It’s a tough road ahead against Bryce Young & Co., but if Banks’ unit can play well overall for the rest of the season, then Tennessee’s comeback in the SEC East hierarchy doesn’t look as steep as it does. ‘2 months ago.


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About Harold Shirley

Harold Shirley

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