Tennessee Football defensive lineman Tyler Baron has been around long enough to feel the collective kick to the gut that the Vols’ defense has been enduring over the years. No, Tennessee hasn’t been great defensively in the recent past, but now with things trending their way, the Vols are kicking back – at opponents and critics alike.
Need proof? Tennessee is tied for No. 2 in the country with 4.4 team sacks per game. More proof? The Vols are fourth in the nation with 9.4 tackles for a loss per game. Tennessee Football isn’t perfect defensively, as the Vols are still 21st in the country with 308 yards allowed per game. However, there’s no denying Tennessee’s defense is playing much better than just a year ago and, according to Baron, there’s more left.
“To be honest, I still feel like there is so much room for improvement,” the senior said. “We’ve left so many plays out there so far. I can’t even turn to look back, I’m really just worried about what’s in front of us. I think we can do a lot better. We’re just getting back to work this week and improving on that.”
No one would argue that the Vols have faced a tough gauntlet so far in their 2023 season. Tennessee will have a chance to beat its highest quality opponent to this point of the year if the Vols can best the Texas A&M Aggies. The best way of making that happen may be to beat Texas A&M’s offensive line, which is middle of the pack in the SEC with 4.39 yards per rush (eighth) and allowing two sacks per game (sixth), consistently with the Vols up-field style on defense.
“They’re a big group,” Baron said, perhaps hinting at a speed advantage for the Vols. “They do a really good job of playing behind their pads. Their pass off (play-action) game is good also. I think for us, it’s just going into it with the right mindset. It’s going to be a physical game, and I think we are excited for that.”
And, surely, excited for the future.