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Grading the Vols’ Performance Through Five Weeks

Defensive Line

Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

Nathanael: C

Tennessee’s trio of seniors on the defensive line — Kyle Phillips, Shy Tuttle, and Alexis Johnson — have been largely average this year. I’ve been impressed with the physicality Tuttle is playing with, and Phillips has flashed more ability this year than he has in any of his previous years at UT. But all in all, the main three guys up front just haven’t been very flashy.

The Vols have been better against the run this season, but they still aren’t great. And that starts up front.

I’ve not really seen the Vols’ defensive line get dominated this year at any point like they were last season, so that’s an improvement. But to me, they’ve just been mostly average with a few moments both of great play and poor play. Emmit Gooden has provided good support, but that’s been it as far as depth goes along the line. The Vols don’t have much else for depth on the defensive line right now, and that’s concerning.

Ben: C-

The defensive line hasn’t been awful this season, but the group also hasn’t played to a level necessary to win in the SEC.

Alexis Johnson, Shy Tuttle, and Kyle Phillips have all been somewhat productive in stopping the run but have failed to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. A healthy portion of the lack of pressure falls on the shoulders of the outside linebackers, but the D-line hasn’t provided a spark either. As a result, Tennessee has just 10 sacks on the season, just the 11th-most in the conference. On the ground, opponents are rushing for nearly five yards a carry, leading to 158.0 rushing yards per game.

Depth is the biggest concern with the defensive line right now. When Johnson, Tuttle, or Phillips need a breather, the pickings for a replacement are slim.

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One Response

  1. No way the QB gets a B-. UT has a QB that has no feel for the game, cannot read defenses, and has no running ability. JG is the worse QB in the conference behind the worse line in the conference.
    I grade him a D- at best, just due to the fact he has improved from last year in the “throw game” (but not by much) and is playing behind this horrible offensive line.

    With this team, we need a true mobile QB that can make plays with the legs. I would bring Jennings back to QB and let him run the team against Auburn, Miz, Kent, Charlotte, and Vandy. We have no chance with JT.


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