Young linebackers must step up for Vols

We keep looking at the question of how good this Tennessee Football team will be this fall. We took a look at the defensive line of the Vols and what they must do for UT to be successful in 2011. Now it's time to look at an unit that syncs with the DL, thats the linebacking corp.

We keep looking at the question of how good this Tennessee Football team will be this fall.

We took a look at the defensive line of the Vols and what they must do for UT to be successful in 2011.

Yes, the development of the defensive front is critical, and will play a huge part on how good this next group is going to be.

In football terms, its often said that one's team success will depend on its front seven.

No football fans, you won't see many teams lining up with seven defensive linemen, what that is referring to is the team's linebacking corp.

A team's linebackers can only be as good as it's defensive front four. Linebackers must have time to utilize their reads and keep offensive linemen from taking them out of the play.

The best way to accomplish this is to get a huge push from the teams front four. This allows the linebackers to have time to roam the line of scrimmage and make a play.

Tennessee lost a crucial playmaker in Nick Reveiz who graduated this spring. Now someone has to step up and make plays for new linebacker coach Peter Sirmon.

Sirmon, a former Tennessee Titan, has played the game, he served as the defensive grad assistant last fall. His promotion to full time linebacker coach this spring has been received as a very positive move for Justin Wilcox's defensive staff.

With the recent summer injury of Herman Lathers (broken bone in his leg) depth is going to be a major issue at this position.

If this squad is going to get help and leadership from a senior, it's going to have to come in the form of former fullback now linebacker Austin Johnson.

ohnson is a bigger, more athletic guy than Reveiz. He probably will play with as much heart as Reveiz and if he does, then the Vols may have their answer to replace the former standout.

Another undersized but active senior is Daryl Vereen. The talented North Carolina native will have to play a vital role this fall. The same can be said for walk-on Shane Reveiz, the younger brother of Nick.

Tennessee will have to rely on the likes of true sophomores John Propst, Raiques Crump and true incoming freshmen A.J. Johnson and Christian Harris.

While this is definitely a young group, this group possesses speed and the football moxy that is hard to teach.

If this group struggles this fall, then it could be a longer season than expected in Derek Dooley's second season. While most feel the future is bright, a lot will depend on the defense's front seven play on how many games the Vols will win.


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