Tennessee Vols junior edge rusher Tyler Baron made a few comments this week that should have fans feeling very optimistic about the 2022 season.

The Vols’ biggest issue last season — especially on defense — was a lack of depth.

We saw Tennessee play Alabama and Georgia tough into the second half, only to fade late.

That had a lot to do with not having enough depth.

The depth issue obviously won’t be fixed in just one offseason. But based on the comments from Baron this week, it sounds like the Vols are in a much better place than they were a season ago.

“Saying I’m pleased (with defensive depth) would be an understatement,” said Baron this week. “I’m excited about how much depth we have and how many guys we’ll be able to rotate in this year. Keeping everybody fresh. When we come out, I don’t think there will be any drop-off.

“I think whoever is behind me, Byron (Young) and some of the other guys, I think there won’t be any difference. I think they will be able to continue the style of play that Coach (Tim) Banks wants, as well, and keep the flow up.”

Aside from keeping quarterback Hendon Hooker healthy, the depth on the defensive side of the ball might be the aspect of Tennessee’s roster that’s the most critical to the Vols’ success in 2022.

Tennessee still doesn’t quite have enough depth to win the SEC East — at least I don’t think they do (maybe they prove me wrong) — but it appears they have enough depth to possibly pull off an upset or two.

Josh Heupel and his staff have this thing moving in the right direction. It wouldn’t be wise to put grandiose expectations on Heupel, but I think the Vols finally have the coach that can get them back to consistently winning 10 games a year.

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