There wasn’t much to nitpick after the Tennessee Vols‘ 59-10 win against Ball State in the season-opener this past Thursday night.
One concern that came from the win, however, was the Vols’ inability to consistently get pressure against Cardinals quarterback John Paddock.
Tennessee finished the night with zero sacks and seven quarterback hurries.
The takeaway for many fans was that if the Vols couldn’t get consistent pressure against Ball State, how will they get pressure against SEC opponents?
That’s a reasonable concern. But I think that concern was completely erased after watching Alabama’s 55-0 win against Utah State on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide have one of the best defenses in the nation. Yet they didn’t record a single sack against an overmatched Utah State team.
Alabama also had just four quarterback hurries. That’s despite having the best pass rusher in the nation in linebacker Will Anderson Jr.
Now, there are a couple of things to note:
- Utah State is a better team than Ball State. But I’d say the talent gap between Alabama and Utah State is similar to the talent gap between Tennessee and Ball State.
- Utah State only threw the ball 22 times compared to Ball State’s 43 pass attempts. Alabama had fewer opportunities for sacks/quarterback hurries. However, you’d still expect the best pass rusher in the nation to get a sack against an overmatched opponent. Additionally, the Crimson Tide averaged a quarterback hurry every 5.5 pass attempts, while the Vols averaged a quarterback hurry every 6 pass attempts. Similar production, essentially.
There are plenty of reasons why teams don’t get generate sacks against overmatched opponents. Some of it is the defensive approach. The Vols generally didn’t rush more than five players against Ball State.
Ball State and Utah State were also both determined to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. That made it tougher to generate sacks.
I doubt anyone is worried about Alabama or Anderson because they didn’t record a sack against Utah State.
So why should Vols fans be worried after the team didn’t sack Ball State’s quarterback?
Simply put, they shouldn’t be. Tennessee handled business against Ball State just like they should’ve.
We’ll know much more about the Volunteers’ defense after their matchup against Pittsburgh this weekend.
Featured image via USA TODAY Sports