Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix following the La.-Lafayette game noted the growth of freshman defensive end Carlos Thompson, a prep All-American at Hollandale-Simmons last year.
A speed rusher, Thompson had only one tackle against the Cajuns, but it was a big one, a sack for a 13-yard loss. It was the first sack of his career.
“He played a lot. Some of that had to do with long-yardage situations, but he's in the rotation now, and we need Carlos and (freshman) Delvin Jones to become impact players,” Nix said.
Thompson's time in the rotation increased with the knee injury to starter Gerald Rivers, a third-year sophomore. Rivers is expected to be back for Tennessee.
Thompson is just happy to contribute.
“I expected to redshirt, but I played my heart out during camp, and they felt I was ready,” he said. “Now, the more I play, the more I know my assignments.”
Bingo. A defense lacking speed would benefit if Thompson were to find his comfort zone. Right now the sack is his only tackle this season.
Again, the opponent is a consideration here, but freshman Mike Marry looked very comfortable last week in his first start with 11 tackles and three tackles for loss. Jonathan Cornell is expected to be back this week, but maybe there's room for Cornell and Marry on the field together.