Vols Young Defense Getting Pressure On QB’s


The Vols young defensive line is beginning to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Derek Barnett and company are beginning to get the job done defensively up front for the Vols. Barnett added two sacks in the game against Kentucky last night to increase his total to 5 on the season.

Barnett put more pressure on Wildcat Quarterback Patrick Towles on this Halloween than “Friday The 13th’s” Jason at a Sorority camp out. Just like a movie it was 3 hours of screaming, running, and gnashing of teeth while trying to avoid a pursuer . The only thing missing was suspense at the end. This one was over after the Vols first possession of the second half.

The defensive line played a whale of a game in the loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Yes, Derrek Henry got his yards. But Tennessee made it tough on him most of the game. The defensive line put plenty of pressure on quarterback Jacob Coker in that game. The Vols found that Cory Vereen could play some ball on that night.

Vereen continued to play well last night. Cory was instrumental in flushing Towles out of the pocket time and time again last night. Vereen ended with 4 total tackles of which two were for a loss. Although undersized at 6’2″ 250 lbs, he has been a pleasant surprise while filling in for the Vols Curt Maggitt who is out for the season, and probably career.

Owen Williams, LaTroy Lewis and Kyle Phillips also played well in the blow out. The Vols were getting to Towles with just the front four. As a matter of fact, many times the Vols went with just three down lineman in third and long situations and Barnett and company still have Towles little time to find a receiver.

If there is an achilles heal for this line and linebackers, it is the inability to actually get the quarterback to the ground. Tennessee must lead the nation in “almost sacks”. Going back to Mayfield of Oklahoma, the PED cheater of Florida, and now Towles of Kentucky, it seems like the qb’s have greased their uniforms. The Vols just seem to slip off the tackle for some reason. This has been frustrating to fans. I can only imagine how frustrating it is to the players.

As an ex high school quarterback I will go on record saying that I hate the rule that allows the quarterback to intentionally ground the ball if he is outside of the tackles. I think that is wrong. It still should have to be thrown in the vicinity of a player. Not into the stands. That should be ruled a sack. How frustrating must it be to beat an 340 lb offensive lineman, then chase down a 200 lb fleet footed quarterback only to watch him throw it to an obscure position coach on the sidelines. It happens a lot to Barnett.

More from Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols did give up a few big plays again last night. They locked down the Wildcats on the first three series. The Vols were up in yardage 170 yards to 2 for Kentucky. The Wildcat faithful cheered when the Wildcats finally got a first down late in the first quarter.

The Vols still seem to have some busts in the secondary. Kentucky hit a big 39 yard touchdown pass, and a big third down screen pass that went for thirty yards when every Vol fan watching in the stands and on television knew what was coming.

The Vols fantastic freshman Darrin Kirkland, Jr. sniffed out the next screen pass Towles decided to run however. He picked off the screen in stride and took it to the four yard line of Kentucky. The game was over as the Vols scored yet another touchdown by Jalen Hurd.

Tennessee did lose cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to a badly called targeting foul in the second half. It will be appealed to the powers that be, but we know how that will end. It was in no way a malicious, illegal hit warranting targeting. Moseley led with his shoulder and put it in the receiver’s chest…not his head.

Moseley lost his starting position to Overton High School’s Justin Martin. But Moseley is a vital part of the nickel defense, and secondary in general. With South Carolina coming off of a good performance playing Texas A&M, this could be a bad situation for the Vols. The need Moseley for that game.

It will be important for this Line to continue to put pressure on the quarterback in these last four games of the season. South Carolina will have the best offense of these last four. But Tennessee is not good enough to just line up against these teams and win. Vanderbilt and Missouri have really good defenses. But there offenses are hard to watch. They are terrible honestly.

But they are still dangerous, and for the Vols to finish like they want this season, the defensive line will be the key to this finish. Barnett and company are more than capable of making it a Halloween like nightmare on the remaining scheduled teams.

More from Tenn Truth