There is only one thing that can stop Tennessee defensive lineman Tyler Baron from topping his sack total from a year ago. It’s the same thing that has held him back all along.
A healthy Baron already has two sacks this season after just one game. An injury-plagued Baron had only two-and-a-half sacks all of last season. As long as Baron is in good shape, he’ll top that total easily. So far, so good.
“I’m just feeling really good right now, and my body is in a really good place,” the former standout from Catholic High School in Knoxville said Tuesday during the Vols’ press conference. “I just look to maintain that.”
Credit Baron for not getting overly frustrated last season after he registered four sacks in 2021 as a sophomore and seemingly took a step back last season. It would have been understandable had he become forlorn. Instead, Baron continued to work. That showed up in droves as the Vols beat Virginia 49-13. Baron was one of many Tennessee players who seemed quite content to set up shop in the Cavaliers’ backfield.
“It’s awesome,” Baron said of his production in the Vols’ season opener. “The coaches do a really good job teaching us how to balance and keep good rush lanes. I think the whole defensive line did a really good job as a unit. I think we saw some of the fruit, but we can still improve.”
Baron and James Pearce Jr., were the highlighted players against Virginia – as they should have been. Both had two sacks. However, Baron was quick to point out that the Vols’ entire defensive line was responsible for the pressure provided in Nashville on Saturday.
“Not to just single me and James out, but really the whole defensive line, you see it with everybody,” Baron said. “It’s just a group effort. You can see that one person helps the next. Pressure up the middle may help James off the edge, versus someone else off the edge or having someone on the inside. We’re just trying to have great chemistry as an entire unit.”
The chemistry is great so far. So is the stat line. With Austin Peay on the schedule this season, Baron could best the number of sacks he had last season. In fact, he might top the four he had in 2021.