For the first time in the Butch Jones era, Tennessee has the bodies up front to compete at the SEC level. With Arkansas heading to town this weekend, the Vols will need every capable defensive lineman on the roster to give the team meaningful snaps.
Following Tuesday's practice, defensive line coach Steve Stripling spoke of the team's depth and rotation, as they plan to deal with the notoriously large offensive line of Arkansas.
"Really, right now, we're playing five tackles and five ends. We're playing 10," Stripling said. "At this point, our motto this week is 'every play is a fourth-and-1.' This game's a fourth-and-1, so the guys that are producing on the field are the guys that are gonna play. We have a pool of 10 that are all gonna be in there."
Stripling also commented on the likelihood of true freshmen Shy Tuttle and Kahlil McKenzie making an impact in the game.
While the Arkansas offensive line has a reputation of being one of the biggest in all of football, not only in college but the NFL level as well, Tennessee's freshmen certainly aren't lacking in mass. Both Tuttle, listed at 311-pounds, and McKenzie, listed at 344-pounds, have more than enough size to compete against the biggest linemen Arkansas will throw at them.
"I think, especially in a shorter-yardage situation where you think they're definitely gonna run it, I think you're gonna get your biggest, most physical, most leverage players in there," Stripling said.