By: John Dunn
Founder, Managing Editor, Producer, Host
The All Vol Call in Show
Last season, the tale of the Tennessee Volunteers was centered around its potent offense. Heisman candidate Hendon Hooker was the most efficient quarterback in the nation, Jalin Hyatt was the best receiver in the nation, the running game was stout, the team was scoring more points faster than anyone else -- but this season has had a different tone; almost the opposite. So far through five games this season, the tale of the Tennessee football team has been its defense, and on that defense lies a three-headed monster.
Week one against Virginia was a good indicator of what the Tennessee faithful would be witnessing this season. Although the Cavaliers aren't a very good team, the defensive success was a precursor to what was sure to come. James Pearce Jr. and Tyler Baron erupted for two sacks each during the game.
Not to be outdone, the following week against Austin-Peay, Tennessee defensive standout Aaron Beasley showed that he wasn't going to settle for the defensive scraps left over by Baron and Pearce, totaling two sacks of his own against the Govs. Pearce and Baron still managed one sack each on the Austin-Peay quarterback as well, showing continued tenacity from week one.
Over the course of the next few weeks against the likes of Florida, UTSA, and South Carolina, the trio found itself working its way up the national rankings in some important defensive categories. Now, through five games, James Pearce Jr. ranks fifth in the nation in sacks, and is tied for 19th in the nation in tackles for loss. Teammate Tyler Baron is ranked 21st nationally in sacks. Aaron Beasley is ranked ninth in the nation in tackles for loss as well. It is also work mentioning that Joshua Josephs is also tied for 29th in the nation in sacks.
The stats say that Tennessee has one of the best trios, or even quartets, of defenders in the entire nation. The Vols are the only team in the nation with three individual players ranked inside the top-50 in sacks. (Utah, Alabama, USC, ASU, UCLA, Wake, Kansas ).
Tennessee leads the nation in sacks with 22, and is third overall in tackles for loss.
It's safe to say that the Tennessee defense has found its footing. The leadership and example set by Baron, Beasley, and Pearce will help elevate this Tennessee team past some tough match ups in the coming weeks, beginning with evenly-matched Texas A&M on Saturday.