Kentucky may not be great, but they’re different. That can be a challenge for Tennessee.
It seems the narrative for the Vols has been the same when facing various offenses this season.
1. Contain a mobile quarterback.
2. Don’t get beat by allowing a passer to beat you with his legs.
As it turns out, Tennessee has been excellent at that.
Think back for a second. It would have just taken couple of blown assignments up front to let quarterbacks like Alabama’s Bryce Young or Florida’s Anthony Richardson to flip the script on the Vols. Tennessee could have easily had two losses had it not been for the Vols’ discipline up front on defense. That same front crushed an LSU offense that was led by a very mobile quarterback in Jayden Daniels. Mobile quarterbacks aren’t a problem.
So what about this week? The Vols don’t have to worry about Kentucky’s Will Levis turning into a track star. The Vols just have to do what they do. Stunt, twist, blitz and apply pressure to a quarterback who is much more statuesque than speedy. For Kentucky, this is a recipe for disaster. For the Vols, this is a chance to shine up front on defense. It’s also a chance to stumble.
Kentucky will rely heavily on play-action. Sure, that type of offense is meant to attack a second-guessing secondary, but it could also affect the Vols defensive line and linebackers if they grow too hungry to sack Levis. Roaring up field can open up running lanes for Wildcat running back Chris Rodriquez.
“Really good back,” Tennessee defensive lineman/linebacker Byron Young said of the power back from the Commonwealth. “No arm tackles.”
It might be hard for Young and company not to think about sacking Levis, especially since Kentucky gives up more sacks, 3.7 per game, than any team in the SEC.
The Vols will have to be disciplined to not get wide-eyed about racking up sacks while making sure they tackle Rodriquez with proper form. So the challenge is different, but discipline is still the key. In that case, Tennessee should be just fine based on how they’ve played so far this season.