By Jimmy Hyams / @JimmyHyams
Cedric Tillman is the real deal.
Tillman, who caught eight passes in three seasons at Tennessee, had 10 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown against the best defense in the nation. The redshirt junior is not only a candidate for SEC Breakout Player of the Year but a candidate for All-SEC.
Tillman has 46 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games. And he’s a poster-child for player development at UT.
UT coaches can point to Tillman when recruiting receivers.
You wanna catch a ton of passes? Look at Tillman.
You wanna grow as a wideout? Look at Tillman.
You wanna boost your NFL stock? Look at Tillman.
Tillman has not only earned respect from his teammates for his commitment and hard work, he’s earned the respect of defenses which have had difficulty dealing with No. 4.
Lack of team speed on defense an issue
Tennessee’s inability to contain running quarterbacks reared its head again against Georgia.
Stetson Bennett ran for 40 yards against the Vols, 1 shy of his career high. Florida’s Emory Jones (144) Alabama’s Bryce Young (42) and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral (195) had career rushing days against UT.
Many of those QB conversions have been on third-and-5 or more?
Is that a scheme issue?
Is that a team speed issue?
Tennessee doesn’t have the team speed to react to quarterbacks who take off from the pocket. UT doesn’t seem to have a linebacker with 4.7 speed or better. And it only has one defensive lineman, Bryan Young, that appears capable of chasing down a quarterback.
And surely you noiced the difference in defensive team speed between Georgia and Tennessee.
While Tennessee has many holes to fill in recruiting, garnering speed on defense should be a top priority.
Top-ranked teams tame Tennessee
Tennessee once again lost the No. 1 team in the nation, and once again, the final score wasn’t close.
Georgia’s 41-17 victory marked UT’s 12th straight loss to a top-ranked team and ran the Vols’ record to 2-15 in such games.
Tennessee beat LSU in 1959 and Auburn in 1985.
Of the 15 losses to a No. 1 team, only two were one possession games: Notre Dame 34-29 in 1990 and Alabama 12-10 in 2009. Tennessee quarterback Andy Kelly was intercepted in the end zone late in the fourth quarter of the Notre Dame loss. Alabama’s Terrence “Mount’’ Cody blocked a last-season field goal attempt by the Vols 12 years ago.