Coming off a bye week, Tennessee Football has another major test, welcoming the Texas A&M Aggies to town. This is another Jimbo Fisher team that’s loaded with talent despite underachieving. Here are the players the Vols can rely on in Josh Heupel’s system to take advantage of A&M’s issues so far this year.
5. Joe Milton III
Jalen Milroe of the Alabama Crimson Tide is universally recognized as a bad passer and torched A&M for over 300 yards. Tyler Van Dyke of the Miami Hurricanes threw for five touchdowns and over 300 yards. Technically, A&M’s pass defense has been elite this year, but those two games should scream for Joe Milton III to finally deliver a masterpiece. A bye week to prepare should only help.
4. Cooper Mays
Probably the strongest part of Texas A&M’s team is its run defense, helped a former Knoxville kid in Walter Nolen. Meanwhile, the Vols’ strength has been their run game. This will come down to the UT interior offensive line against A&M’s defensive tackles. With Cooper Mays fully healthy now, likely back in shape and the anchor of the unit, it all falls on him.
3. Squirrel White
Everybody talked about Jermaine Burton going off for Alabama last week, but hidden in that was Isaiah Bond gaining 96 yards receiving with a score. Xavier Restrepo of Miami went for 126 yards. Both are smaller, speedy receivers. With Bru McCoy out, Tennessee Football must turn to its speedy receiver, in this case Squirrel White. If he goes off, the Vols are in good shape.
2. Aaron Beasley
Pass protection for Texas A&M was exposed last week, and the worst of the group was right tackle Chase Bisontis, who had a 17.1 PFF grade. UT usually lines up a hybrid defensive lineman on that side, like Dominic Bailey, so Tim Banks can make room for a blitzer. In this case, that rusher will be Aaron Beasley. He’s balled out so far this year, and Saturday is another chance.
1. Omari Thomas
While Bisontis was the worst blocker, the interior as a unit was bad, and center Bryce Foster had a 31.2 PFF grade. Three of the five sacks A&M allowed came from defensive tackles. Omari Thomas has been a model of consistency for Tennessee Football this year in the middle. He should easily be able to stop the run and get the push that applies pressure elsewhere. If he does, Max Johnson struggles.