Matthew Butler may have only started in four games in 2019, but he made an appearance in all 13 contests. He led an injury-riddled defensive line unit with 45 tackles, and he is back for his senior season.
Following the news of Emmitt Gooden's season-ending injury, and having to wait just days before the first game of the season to find out if Aubrey Solomon would be eligible or not, expectations around Tennessee's defensive line were not high.
The unit came into its own down the stretch, finding production from guys like Bulter, as well as Greg Emerson and Darrell Middleton.
However, according to Butler during a Wednesday media availability, the unit was not close to the expectations they set for themselves.
Butler said when asked if he felt they overachieved, "I mean, I don't feel that way because going into the season, you know, I knew that with the circumstances at hand, as did everybody, that I didn't have anything but high expectations for us."
Butler continued by saying, "I mean if anything, we underachieved, because we had very, very high goals for ourselves, regardless of the situation, and we didn’t meet them, as far as being the No. 1 defense in the country, the No. 1 defensive line in the country, the No. 1 team in the country."
So, if the Vols underachieved, Butler has already identified the areas they need to improve in. He said, "I could point to a lot of things that we could improve on, but I'll point to the biggest things. I think the biggest thing we can improve on is just consistency throughout the entire game, and also throughout an entire season. Each game kind of translates to thE entire season. I mean, it kind of shows. Our entire season kind of translated into that last game for us, and I could dare say that each game translated into that season. It’s consistency and with that consistency throughout a game, throughout a season, not losing your technique, not losing your endurance, your mental endurance, and your physical endurance, and of course plenty of technical things that can be improved upon day by day, week by week, opponent by opponent."
Butler finished last season with 45 total tackles, and he projects to be a key piece of Tennessee's defensive line this fall.
You can see Butler's comments in the video above.