With just over a week before the Tennessee Volunteers kick off the 2020 season, it seems that nothing really positive has came out of Vols camp (minus Cade Mays becoming eligible). Pruitt recently expressed aggravation with his defensive line unit. Last season, minus a pass rush from Taylor on the edge, the line wasn’t very impressive getting pressure on the QB. Rumors have been swirling around for weeks about Darel Middleton and Aubrey Solomon potentially opting out, but Middleton announced on his Twitter that he would be playing this season. Solomon has been practicing but no word that he’s opting out. The Vols ranked 48th in the country last season in rush defense and 32nd in team sacks, honestly that‘s pretty decent for second year coach, Jeremy Pruitt.
In order for the Vols to have success, the D-line has to step up and contribute majorly. Your most likely starting front 3 is; Middleton and Solomon on the ends and Greg Emerson in the middle playing nose tackle. As we’ve seen in past years, Pruitt loves to sub players in and out A LOT, you’ll see the front change out with players like Matthew Butler, Kurott Garland and LaTrell Bumphus. Even if the front DL players don’t show up, Pruitt has a tendency to bring more pressure with linebackers and defensive backs. Also, COVID-19 has contributed to some of these DL players not playing well in camp because some have been out due to contact tracing. Pruitt mentioned in an interview that some players who will get snaps against South Carolina have been out for contact tracing.
Hopefully the defensive line can get it together because it seems that South Carolina will start graduate transfer Collin Hill against the Volunteers, so if they’re able to get in the backfield and create some chaos, it would help getting the Vols the first win of the season. Also, except some freshman’s to get some major snaps on this defensive line like Elijah Simmons (redshirt-freshman) and Dominic Bailey.