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VAST IMPROVEMENT: A look at how Tennessee's defense has changed from last season

By: Alex Harmon

Junior Staff Writer

The All Vol Call in Show


Photo | Tennessee Athletics

There is a saying that gets passed around football that we have all heard a time or two and that saying goes “defense wins championships”. This saying still remains true, but it doesn’t hold the same weight that it used to with offenses out here putting up numbers that we’ve never seen before. Although offense is just as important as defense and vice versa, the elite teams display excellent defensive capabilities.

For the 2023 season, the Tennessee Volunteers seem to have taken a massive step forward on defense. Which leaves us asking the question, is Tennessee on its way to becoming elite? For the 2022 season, the Volunteers were able to show a lot of improvement on the defensive

side of the ball, but that wasn’t the main focus for the team. They were able to go out on the field and outscore most of our opponents, for example the Alabama game. It was as if the defense was able to be complimentary to the offense, not the other way around. It is really impressive to take a step back and see just how well both sides of the ball meshed together to lead the team to one of its best seasons in years.

The Volunteers ended up 10th in the SEC regarding total defense in 2022 finishing above only South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt. They allowed an average of 22.8 points per game as well as 389.2 yards per game. This certainly doesn’t jump off the page as a great statistic, but it was enough to carry them to an 11-2 season with a NY6 victory. It isn’t hard to think back to last year and remember some of the massive plays that the defense had which led to wins over LSU, Kentucky, Mizzou, Vandy, and Clemson. On the flip side of this coin, the defense also had a few let downs giving up loads of points against Alabama, even though they won the game as well as the atrocious game versus

South Carolina where they gave up 201 yards passing and 132 yards on the ground. The good thing about the 2022 season is that Tennessee was able to end on a high note and reload for the 2023 season.

This season has given us a different look at a defense that we can all get behind thanks to the play on the field from players like Hadden, Baron, JPJ, Beasley, Norman-Lott, as well as others. There are things that the team still struggles with, but overall, I would have to tip the cap to Tim Banks and his crew for the improvement that we have seen to this point in the season. So far, the Vols are sitting at 4th in the SEC when it comes to total defense and 3 rd overall on rushing defense only allowing 105.1 yards per game. That is a very big jump in just one short year. The Vols are giving up an average of 20.4 points per

game, which is a step in the right direction. They are also giving up 303.1 total yards per game versus the 389.2 yards per game from last year, which is also a significant jump from last year. Things seem to be headed in the right direction for the Tennessee Volunteers on the defensive side of the ball.

Every defensive statistic category from last season has been improved. Tennessee is known for having a defensive line that is elite with constant pressures coming from either side as well as run support coming from the secondary. The defensive backs have already produced numbers that are rivaling the 2022 season, and they still have three games to play, plus a bowl game. The 2024 Volunteers also have something to look forward to with some great commits coming in to help take them to the next level.

Everyone needs to buckle up and get ready for the fireworks that are sure to come and if you are a trajectory person, things are looking to be headed in the right direction on the defensive side of the ball.


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