Tennessee’s defensive performance against LSU wasn’t just good. According to defensive end/linebacker Byron Young, it was the best outing in his time as a Vol.
“I believe it was the best, just how we came out, read all our keys and did all of our assignments,” Young said when asked if the Vols’ 40-13 beatdown of the Tigers was the tops in his career considering the stakes and the backdrop. “The reason is we had two great days of practice, everybody locked in and doing their assignments so I feel like this preparation is the reason that we came out there and did what we did.
The Vols have probably had “great” days of practice before. However, the Vols’ best wasn’t solely on display in Tiger Stadium on Saturday.
“Everybody was so locked in,” Young said. “We come off the bye week and everybody was getting back healthy and just knowing how big this game was…We just knew we had to be extra locked in.
“At practice, coach said it was probably the best two days of practice since we got here. When I heard that I knew, we had to do the same thing in the game. That’s what we did.”
The best two days of practice equalled a dominating performance in which Tennessee’s defense gave up 355 yards, most of which occurred when the game had all but been decided.
Young must have been a big part of those best two days of practice. After struggling to complete his pass rushes with sacks this season, Young had just one sack amongst 10 quarterback hurries in four games this season. Against LSU, Young racked up 2.5 sacks.
Young will tell you that perseverance and preparation led to the uptick in sacks. However, LSU’s tendency to not keep extra players in to protect quarterback Jayden Daniels was also a factor.
“Really exciting,” Young said of LSU’s lack of extra protection. “We just know when we see that, we’ll call a certain play that triggers us.
Something else triggered Young as well. Before the game, someone sent him a video of Tennessee fans making the trip to Baton Rouge to support the Vols.
“It was amazing,” Young said. “On the way up here, before the game, somebody sent me a video of the plane ride. The whole fan base signing the ‘Rocky Top’ song. Just seeing them when we’re coming out, the fan base to travel all the way over here, that’s love.
“It made me feel like I was at home. I love it. I can’t wait to see what they bring next week. I know they’re going to be excited.”
Uh, yeah. With Alabama coming to town, Tennessee’s fan base will be at an all-time high with a team that is 5-0 and could actually pull off a monumental win against the Crimson Tide. Young can’t get caught up in all of that.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We have to treat every team the same. We can’t say this team is better. We just have to read our keys, play the same way against every team.
“That’s how you beat a team. We have to go out next week, do the same thing, read our keys and do our assignment and hopefully we’ll come out with the dub.”
Young and the Vols might get the “dub”, which means “W”, which means a “win”. If so, they’ll do so with confidence that they’ve surmised, in part, from their win against the Tigers.
“Just coming into Death Valley, this type of stadium, it’s kind of hard to win in and we just came out and did our thing in the first half, just closed out the game,” Young said. “It feels great.”
That feeling can actually get even better in just a few days.