It’s certainly no secret that Tennessee’s defense had a tough time in 2021. Tim Banks’s squad finished No. 12 in the SEC in total defense and dead last in the league in passing defense a year ago. Obviously, there’s plenty that can be improved upon in the coming season.

And what defensive back Trevon Flowers said during a quick media session on Wednesday should give you some hope that things have gotten significantly better on that side of the ball. First, Flowers was asked about UT’s defensive line and how they look in the pass rush and he had this to say…

“The d-line, man, they’ve been working so hard this offseason. The coaches have been pushing them to be the best. They definitely play a big role as far as the pass game. Every time we come in after practice and check the board, the sack numbers are always high. So, those guys are getting off the ball, they’re straining, they’re ready to go, man.”

Jul 21, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers player Trevon Flowers – Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Now, Tennessee wasn’t necessarily bad at getting to the opposing quarterback in 2021 (they finished 8th in the SEC in sacks) but Flowers complimenting the line’s work ethic and sack numbers in camp is great to hear. A more consistent and powerful pass rush could do wonders for the Vols’ defense this year.

Then after discussing the d-line, Flowers was asked about overall defensive depth, which was arguably Tennessee’s single biggest problem last season. Flowers’ description of the amount of newly available players should have you thinking positively about UT’s defense. He said this about roster depth…

“Oh man, maybe we went from 11 guys back there to 20-plus. The depth is definitely not a concern. We have people that can back every one of us up. One, or two, or three deep. Our depth is good. We’ll be ready to go.” 

As long as Trevon’s not exaggerating, that is music to my ears. It was painful seeing how paper-thin the defensive unit was during the 2021 campaign. Watching the Purdue game alone, in which star DB Alontae Taylor was absent for the Vols, will make it clear how brutal Tennessee’s lack of depth really was. If effective depth has really been added to give the defense more stamina, the sky could be the limit for the Big Orange this year. We’ll get to see this new, deeper defense one week from today on Thursday, September 1st when UT will take on Ball State at 7:00 pm ET.

Featured image via Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK