No. 4 – Tennessee DC, Derrick Ansley and Co-DC, Jimmy Brumbaugh
How good can the Vols defense be in 2020? Brad Crawford, writing for 247Sports rates the Vols higher than the Crimson Tide. Vols head coach, Jeremy Pruitt is one of the best defensive minds. Ansley will be the play-caller in 2020, but Pruitt will continue to shape defensive schemes.
Ansley is well respected in coaching circles. Last season, the Vols defense improved significantly. The Vols jumped up to No. 27 in opponent yards-per-play. Ansley lost some key talent, but the attrition can be countered with youth. Pruitt and Ansley have enough player resources to match, Jeremy’s preferred attacking, aggressive strategy.
No. 3 – Texas A&M Aggies DC, Mike Elko
Elko and his boss have something to prove in College Station this season. Neither has matched the expectations associated with star billing. Will this be the year for the Aggies? It could be.
Mike Elko lost a key component in defensive tackle, Justin Madubuike. The strength of his defense will be at linebacker, led by Buddy Johnson. Even without Madubuike, the defensive line will be strong. Demani Richardson is a top safety. The rest of the secondary has size and speed. If Elko can improve the pass rush, the Aggies might be for real on defense in 2020.
Jimbo’s offense must do its part. If Kellen Mond finally reaches his long-expected potential, Elso’s defense will not have to be significantly better than last season.