After a tough loss, Tennessee Football still has to play the season. Now, the Vols have one more non-conference game before the gauntlet of SEC play begins. They need at least one game they can be happy about. Here are five UT players who will be crucial Saturday when the UTSA Roadrunners head to Knoxville.
5. Andrej Karic
In reality, the answer is Ollie Lane or Cooper Mays, but we’re still not sure who’s going to play on Saturday. The interior of the Vols’ offensive line was an embarrassment against the Florida Gators, and UTSA has a top 25 rush defense, allowing under three yards a carry. As a result, there needs to be clear improvement, and Andrej Karic faces the toughest test.
4. Kamal Hadden
Doneiko Slaughter should be back, but it still seems likely Kamal Hadden will remain the No. 1 cornerback, so he’ll be guarding Joshua Cephus, who has 245 yards receiving on the year. Hadden wasn’t bad last week, but he’ll have to keep it up. Otherwise, UTSA could make this game close.
3. Joe Milton III
No surprise here. A lot of what happened last week wasn’t Joe Milton III’s fault, and Tennessee Football playing at home will help him with the pre-snap penalties, but timing and putting the proper touch on throws are still issues he has to clean up. UTSA doesn’t have a bad defense, so this is a good chance for him to do that.
2. John Campbell Jr.
Sticking with offensive linemen, one of the biggest strengths of UTSA is their pass rush. They are 20th in the nation in percentage of pass plays in which they force a sack. John Campbell Jr. has been a bit of a roller coaster so far for the Vols, but he has shown potential. This will be another good test for him.
1. Elijah Herring
Without Keenan Pili, Elijah Herring has manned the calls at middle linebacker, and he struggled in the role last week. However, UTSA quarterback Frank Harris is a major dual-threat, and while he did miss last week, he should be back, so Tennessee Football desperately needs him to step up on Saturday. Otherwise, their offense could get going, and that’s dangerous.