In total, 14 true freshmen played for UT in some aspect of Saturday's game against South Alabama.
While some contributed more than others in the Vols' 31-24 narrow escape of the Jaguars in Neyland Stadium, one that was instrumental to UT's victory was cornerback Cam Sutton.
"They went after him and he knows that," head coach Butch Jones said at Monday's press conference. "Being a freshman, you're going to get challenged and what I think you see in Cam Sutton is a high level of consistency."
Since UT's opener against Austin Peay, Sutton has been listed as a starter for the Vols.
Jones said Sutton registered 78 reps on Saturday.
"Every single day he's the same person," Jones said. "He's never too high, he's never low. You know the way his total approach to practice and to the games, he's mature beyond his age and he's an individual who has earned the right to play, but he's also an individual who is playing out of necessity and he's taking the most of his opportunity."
The Jonesboro, Ga., native recorded seven tackles and three pass break ups against South Alabama, two of which were in the end zone. A similar performance will be asked of Sutton when UT takes on the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs and their aerial attack.
"This week he's going to be challenged and this is where Georgia is going to hurt you," Jones said. "They're very, very skilled and when you have a quarterback like that we understand he's going to be challenged this week just like (cornerback Justin) Coleman is as well but we're extremely, extremely proud of Cam."
In terms of Saturday's upcoming game, senior offensive lineman James Stone believes the Vols defense can stop the Bulldogs offense.
"I have a tremendous amount of faith in our defense, but I do feel like, as an offense, we are going to have to score and be more effective," Stone said. "We have to be more effective down in the red zone, and when we have the ball and sustaining drives."
A major problem for the Vols defense is starting to surface due to a lack of depth.
A.J. Johnson took 83 snaps at linebacker on Saturday while fellow linebacker Dontavis Snap played 82 snaps at linebacker and another 12 on special teams.
"We have too many individuals playing way too many reps," Jones said. "Both our starting corners were in the high 70s in the terms of repetitions on Saturday. And again, throughout the course of a long season that can't happen."
While help to the linebacking corps is partly dependent on if Curt Maggitt returns from injury, the secondary is close to getting some bodies back in its rotation.
Cornerbacks Michael F. Williams and Riyahd Jones returned to practice last week after early season injuries, but did not play on Saturday as the pair regains their conditioning.
Freshman cornerback Malik Foreman did not play Saturday, but remains listed behind junior Justin Coleman on the depth chart this week.
"Each individual progresses at different paces," Jones said. "I love Malik. He's competitive, he's working hard to get better each and every week, but right now he needs to have a good week of preparation and I know he's looking forward to that."