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Week 10 X-Factor: Shy Tuttle

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Tennessee’ best defensive lineman is having a career year

NCAA Football: Tennessee at West Virginia
If only Jeremy Pruitt and Tracy Rocker got a hold of Shy Tuttle about three years ago....
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In the SEC, games are often won and lost in the trenches. It’s pretty simple. If you can move the guy across from you off the line of scrimmage, then it’s almost a guarantee that the game will go your way.

Well, there’s a school just a few more hours east of Knoxville that has taken notice of this strategy. Brad Lambert and the Charlotte 49ers have recruited 18 offensive lineman since 2013. Three of them were three-star recruits.

Along with running back Ben LeMay, Lambert has created a rushing attack that averages around 143 yards per game. To put it into full context, Tennessee averages just a tad over 141 yards per game on the ground.

Our own Austin Burlage brought up the fact that the 49ers love to play keep away in his most recent opponent breakdown. They’ve led in time of possession in every game except their most recent 20-17 win against Southern Miss - which is good enough to rank them at third nationally.

LeMay is 25th in the country with 141 carries on the season. He averages 5.3 yards per carry and leads the team with 6 touchdowns. The 49ers will also be without Chris Reynolds, their starting freshman quarterback.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that the if the Vols want to take care of business like expected, then they will need to shut down the run.

And what better candidate to offer up to get the job done than Shy Tuttle.

Tuttle has been great so far this year, demonstrating excellent play and why Butch Jones recruited him so heavily.

He has consistently made plays all season long. Last week’s interception and blocked extra point were feats of beauty and about the only thing the defense did right for the entire game.

Not only does Tuttle have good strength at the point of attack, but he is also very quick for his size, which allows him to get into the backfield at a quicker rate than most other interior linemen.

If the Vols can come out and shut down the 49ers’ running attack and get a couple quick scores, then that would also set him up for a big day. Tennessee needs to find a more consistent pass rush, so forcing backup quarterback Evan Shirreffs into obvious passing situations will provide an opportunity for the Vols to find pressure.

It wall also give Tuttle a great matchup inside on whomever he is pitted against whether it be the center or guard.

In all, it should be a very good day for Tuttle as the Vols roll to an easy win.