KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ― Tennessee has given up only an average of 150 yards per game through the air this season.
The mark is good enough for fourth in the nation. The defense will be challenged Saturday, though, when the Vols travel to Missouri. The Tigers pass for an average of 314.9 yards per game, good for 14th in the nation.
Coach Butch Jones said Tuesday the pass defense keeps getting better, but this will be the toughest test,yet.
“I think we have continued to grow, develop and improve from game to game,” Jones said. “We will be extremely tested Saturday night. They apply so much pressure to a defense, from the tempo, to the run game, to the RPOs, to the skill sets of their players and their quarterback.
“They are a very good football team. We are going to have to play our most complete football game defensively, and as a football team.”
Tennessee must find a way to disrupt the offense on first or second down. The quick timing of the Missouri offense is based on rhythm. If Tennessee can affect the timing on early downs, the offense will have a tough time stringing together drives.
It won’t be an easy task, though. The Missouri offense moves so quickly that it puts a lot of pressure on the defense to get into place with the correct play in time.
“It’s a great challenge because so much of playing an up-tempo football team is relying on your discipline and execution,” Jones said. “We’ve done some different things, and it’s hard to completely simulate it, but we’ve tried to be creative in terms of how we go about doing it. I think it helps that a lot of these players played against them last year, so they understand the challenges that are associated with playing against this type of offense.”
WMNL’s Josh Ward and SEC Country’s Blake Morgan discuss other keys to the game as well in the Friday podcast.