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Position Grades: No. 17 West Virginia 40, Tennessee 14


Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

Nathanael: D+

Saturday’s game against West Virginia never seemed like a day that would highlight Tennessee’s linebacking corps, and it definitely didn’t. Though Darrin Kirkland Jr. led the team in tackles with 10 on the afternoon, the Vols’ pass rushers at outside linebacker struggled immensely. Darrell Taylor got a quarterback hurry, but he wasn’t consistently effective. Jonathan Kongbo was almost non-existent. Daniel Bituli performed okay, and Quart’e Sapp made a small handful of plays. But overall, this unit was very ineffective.

Ben: D+

Tennessee’s linebackers had a similar performance to the defensive line on Saturday. One player stood out while the rest of the group failed to be productive in hopes of slowing down West Virginia’s offense. Darrin Kirkland Jr. made plays all over the field, leading the team in tackles with 10. However, Daniel Bituli and Quart’e Sapp, two important pieces in the middle of the defense, combined for just eight tackles and one tackle for a loss. More importantly, Darrell Taylor and Johnathan Kongbo combined for just two tackles. Taylor and Kongbo are vital to Tennessee’s pass-rush. On Saturday, they were nowhere to be found.

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