A source tells VFL Insider the Tennessee defense has lost a key member. Preseason All-SEC CB Cam Sutton is out for 6-8 weeks with a fractured ankle.

Head coach Butch Jones said post game that Sutton would miss significant time. Jones did not specify a timetable for Sutton’s return during his Monday press conference.

The 6-8 week window of Sutton’s return would put him back around games at South Carolina (Oct. 29), at home against Tennessee Tech (Nov. 5) and against Kentucky (Nov. 12) at home.

Jones said Sutton was the first and last person in the training room Sunday. Sutton’s mood is “as good as it can be,” per his head coach.

What does missing its top pass defender mean for the Tennessee defense? A tough schedule starting with Florida on Saturday lies ahead, so Vol fans will figure out the answer to that question quickly.

REPLACING SUTTON

Emmanuel Moseley and Justin Martin will be the starters against Florida this Saturday, as they are the most experienced of the back up cornerbacks. 

True Freshman Baylen Buchanan replaced Sutton on Saturday vs Ohio and played fairly well, considering the circumstances. The Vols had already been missing Martin due to an injury, but even he suited up after Sutton was ruled out. 

(rockytopinsider.com) Moseley will be called upon to step up in Sutton's absence
(rockytopinsider.com) Moseley will be called upon to step up in Sutton’s absence

Buchanan and Moseley played out the game as the cornerback duo vs. Ohio. Bobcat QB Greg Windham didn’t have a huge day in the air, passing for 230 yards while only completing 50 percent of his passes. Receiver Sebastian Smith, however, did have a big day against Tennessee with nine catches for 156 yards, including grabs of 42, 37 and 29 yards. Most of his success was against Moseley, who was also called for two pass interference penalties on Smith. 

Ohio’s offense averaged 45 points per game coming into this game and only got into the end zone once. For a Vols defense down Sutton, Reeves-Maybin and Kirkland, that’s a good day of work. It’s the future that’s scary for Vol fans. 

SCHEDULE AHEAD

With a four-game stretch beginning with Florida at home (Sept. 24), at Georgia (Oct. 1), at Texas A&M (Oct. 8) and at home against Alabama (Oct. 15), the heart of UT’s schedule could be played without Sutton. 

Antonio Callaway is ‘questionable’ to return next week for the Gators. The sophomore injured his quad two weeks ago against Kentucky and missed last week’s game vs North Texas. Last season, Callaway torched the Vols with five grabs for 112 yards, including the 63-yard game-winning score on a fourth-and-13 play. 

(jacksonville.com) Callaway (81) burned the UT defense last fall in Gainesville
(jacksonville.com) Callaway (81) burned the UT defense last fall in Gainesville

The following weeks all include passing games with dynamic wide receivers. Georgia has the duo of Isaiah McKenzie and Terry Godwin that have combined for 443 yards averaging 17 yards per catch this season. McKenzie has four TDs thus far. 

Texas A&M might have the best WR group of any SEC team. Talent, size and speed is all over the outside with Josh Reynolds, Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones. Reynolds and Seals-Jones are both over 6-foot-4 and present problems for shorter corners. Kirk is a game-changing playmaker who can score anytime the ball is in his hands. 

Alabama is the best team in college football and Calvin Ridley gets a ton of recognition at WR. The sophomore has 19 catches, 219 yards and a TD.

Don’t forget about ArDarius Stewart, as he’s found the end zone three times this season.

Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said before the season the three guys his defense couldn’t lose were Reeves-Maybin, Kirkland Jr. and Sutton. He’s currently down two, with Reeves-Maybin expected to play this week. Awful luck for the 3-0 Vols.