In the past two games combined, Tennessee's defense has allowed 863 net rushing yards. Saturday's 420 yards versus Missouri were slightly lessened from the prior weekend's total of 443 yards against Kentucky.
"You can't stomach it, it's not acceptable," defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said. "And like I said, I'm responsible for this side of the football and we're very, very fortunate to have a great offense that's carried the load. And you know, there's several reasons for it — from ID and communication, to pursuit and tackling."
Across both lines of scrimmage, the Vols have been hit repeatedly with injuries all season, forcing multiple true freshmen and other less-experienced players to take over in the backfield. Come Saturday, the Orange & White will feature their 11th different starting secondary versus Vanderbilt.
The injuries along the defensive line certainly haven't helped and several players have been asked to step up and fill in at different roles slightly out of their comfort zone.
For defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo, perhaps sliding inside from end to tackle wasn't such a bad thing after all.
"Jonathan Kongbo probably played his best game of the year and obviously scored a defensive touchdown," Shoop said. "We've been trying to sell him on the merits of playing on the inside all year and he bought in. And he certainly didn't play a perfect game, but probably played, over the last couple of weeks, his best football."
Watch the video above to hear more from Bob Shoop about how Team 120's defense must improve before Game 12.