Changing schemes a hit with Hughes

This isn't the same ol' Tennessee defense.

For the better part of two decades and through two coaching staffs, UT's defense has held a certain continuity.

Four down linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs were the basic base.

No longer.

The Vols were about as multiple as one could imagine in their most significant scrimmage of the spring on Saturday in Neyland Stadium. Under first-year defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, the Vols ran three and four man fronts with shifting more often the norm than not.

Wilcox, who isn't available for interviews as per UT's media policy with assistant coaches, even lined up 317-pound defensive tackle Montori Hughes off the line so he could get up a head of steam to rush the passer.

"I love it," the sophomore said with a big smile when asked of the play. "I get to get that momentum up and run into an offensive lineman.

"He's sitting there waiting on me to run into him. It doesn't get any better than that."

Hughes said one of the first times Wilcox called the play this spring, it resulted in a sack.

"I get in real easy on that one," Hughes said, still smiling. "They weren't expecting that. I would have killed the quarterback, but obviously I can't do that in practice."

The multiple defensive alignments aren't shocking. Wilcox did the same at Boise State before head coach Derek Dooley hired him.

It is, however, a little surprising that UT's defense would throw the kitchen sink at an inexperienced offensive line still trying to find its way.

Dooley said there's a balance in how much he wants to challenge his offensive front.

"There's been times where we've let it fly and there's parts flying everywhere and those guys look at the defense and it's like looking through a kaleidoscope," he said. "And then there's times where we've controlled what we've done certain periods where we say 'Play real basic here. Play vanilla.'

"Certainly you want it to be a little simple for them so they can build confidence and develop continuity. But at the same time, the other team, they're not going to be simple for you.

"At some point you've got to throw them in hot water and see if they can survive."

Surprisingly, many of UT's defenders have said the defense they're learning isn't very challenging to master, despite all the variations.

"It's just really simple stuff that we can do that affects the way the offense looks at us and messes their head up which is good because they don't know where they're going to be," defensive end Chris Walker said.

Walker sees the change as fair play.

"It's really confusing for a defense when you see an offense do a lot of shifting," Walker said. "For us, it's going to be really hard for offenses because we're starting in one front and moving into another front. So it will be really hard for offense to figure out what we're doing."

However, there is a downside.

"The downside is we always have to know what we're doing," Walker said. "On offense, one person doesn't do something right, it's second-and-ten. On defense, if one person doesn't do something right, it's a touchdown."

Poole Time: Tailback Tauren Poole turned in a spectacular long touchdown run in which he cut back, broke two tackles and outran the rest of UT's defense to the end zone.

"I got a little something something," the 5-foot-11, 211-pound junior said. "I've got to show something because I'm a little smaller. When I got past the line of scrimmage and saw that green, I got happy and thought 'I have to score.'"

Dooley said he was concerned that UT's defense has given up too many long runs recently, but was pleased with Poole's performance.

"The good backs break tackles," Dooley said. "That's just the way it is. I've always felt that a good back makes an offensive line and not vice versa."

Freshman Connection: Receiver Matt Milton caught the most passes for the Vols on Saturday, four for 17 yards, and was clearly a favorite target of fellow freshman Tyler Bray, who quarterbacked the Vols' second team most of the day.

"What Matt brings is Matt's a big target (6-5 and 207) and a real accurate thrower likes guys like that because they can put the ball away from the defender's leverage with precision and complete balls easier," Dooley said.

Dooley Noted: Dooley said he didn't think there were any significant injuries coming out of Saturday's scrimmage. ... Dooley said Daniel Lincoln has locked down the placekicking job coming out of spring camp and that fellow senior Chad Cunningham has punted well ... Dooley said UT has yet to find a player to adequately handle kickoffs.

Visitors: Several prospects visited campus for UT's scrimmage. Tight end Rory Anderson from Mceachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga. and offensive lineman Lamont Hardy from Lovejoy High School in Hampton, Ga. were the notables.

The Vols also hosted over 100 high school coaches and UT quarterback commitment Nash Nance from Calhoun (Ga.) High School.

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Comments » 20

vol49 writes:

Not bad Hooker.

volzcrushm writes:

Where is Palardy? The number one FG kicker in the nation.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

Nice to hear that more HS guys we're recruiting were there again today.

Wilcox and his "D" are going to have alot of QB's really confused this year and I love it.

Nice that Nash Nance was there today too and I hope he leaves with his QB playbook so he can start learning and get a head start for when he gets on campus this summer.

Nance is a really smart young man (4.0 GPA) and a much better QB than most people know which is why Chaney wanted him so maybe he'll learn really fast and we'll still have the option to redshirt Bray this year and let him keep learning and adding muscle before he has to take the hard hits of the SEC.

I really like what I keep hearing that CDD and staff are doing.

GO BIG ORANGE !!!

TennCup writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

FWBVol writes:

in response to volzcrushm:

Where is Palardy? The number one FG kicker in the nation.

He wasn't one of the kids that enrolled in January so he's still finishing up his senior year of high school in Fort Lauderdale.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

Hooker actually dug out some news and gave it to us straight. This young cub reporter might have potential. Like 80 of the young Vols on the roster. We wait to see how this Dooley regime will turn boys into football players, and twitters into real reporters.

jesusvol4 writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That is the same thing that happened to me! I had forgotten all about Daniel Lincoln.....I sure hope..........forget it. Let's just get ready to play some FOOOOOTBALLLLL! Go VOLS!

VOL24 writes:

Sounds like our defense for once is going to be an attacking style that keeps the offense guessing.

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

Poole Da Man!!! Bryce who??

jimr07 writes:

in response to volzcrushm:

Where is Palardy? The number one FG kicker in the nation.

still in high school. this is spring practice. remember?

joshvols writes:

even jack legged, armchair reporters wouldn't make jokes like "we need an olympic sprinter at qb behind this line". if a fla. beat reporter were to make a comment like this, Urban "cryin" Meyer might show up on the newspaper floor with a machete wearin a bandana rambo style.

tn_rockytop writes:

in response to volzcrushm:

Where is Palardy? The number one FG kicker in the nation.

he was not a early enrolly he will have his time when summer practice starts thats why darick rodgers and some others arent playing in the spring they will be there in the summer

vols2#227315 writes:

Bench Lincoln when Parady get here. We have seen enough of Lincoln the last two years. He cost us to many games to begin to depend on him this fall.

tn_rockytop writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i think you will be supprised the inside info is this team has really come together and we have alot more tallent than you must know of our you wouldnt have comented like that simms is going to be good bray is going to be good i havent seen the other qb,s to comment poole and oku is going to be good our ol is going to be good wr off the chart and tight end will be fist rounder are defense will be awsome you will see alot of schemes that will turn some heads and help us out butt the heart of our team will be the best since 98 hay the sec east is open i think we are closer than most will espect and that is the truth heart intigurty and scheme will go a long way and doubters will see come fall

cumberlandVOL writes:

in response to tn_rockytop:

i think you will be supprised the inside info is this team has really come together and we have alot more tallent than you must know of our you wouldnt have comented like that simms is going to be good bray is going to be good i havent seen the other qb,s to comment poole and oku is going to be good our ol is going to be good wr off the chart and tight end will be fist rounder are defense will be awsome you will see alot of schemes that will turn some heads and help us out butt the heart of our team will be the best since 98 hay the sec east is open i think we are closer than most will espect and that is the truth heart intigurty and scheme will go a long way and doubters will see come fall

i appreciate and welcome your optimism, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. let's be happy with a winning season and a solid bowl game.

VOLFORLIFE writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It says he has it locked down "coming out of spring practice". That doesn't mean he'll have it locked down coming out of fall practice. I'm bettin' when Palardy gets on campus and goes through fall drills, he'll be getting lots of looks.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

I like the multiple defenses and some 3---4 can't hurt..But like most of you Ive taken a wait and see view in regards to Wilcox and the defense. Boise state wasn't great against the run..Against Fresno they gave up 3 running TD's of 60 yards or more..Also Dooley and La Tech put up 35 points on them

easleychuck writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The comment by Coach references 'coming out of spring practice'. I would suspect that there will be another decision 'coming out of fall camp'. Seems that kicker is one position that many times a talented freshman is able to come in and start. Most good kickers are confident, I would think that Palardy is looking forward to the competition when he arrives.

easleychuck writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You again ???? Spreading your good cheer. UT should just cancel the upcoming season.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to tn_rockytop:

i think you will be supprised the inside info is this team has really come together and we have alot more tallent than you must know of our you wouldnt have comented like that simms is going to be good bray is going to be good i havent seen the other qb,s to comment poole and oku is going to be good our ol is going to be good wr off the chart and tight end will be fist rounder are defense will be awsome you will see alot of schemes that will turn some heads and help us out butt the heart of our team will be the best since 98 hay the sec east is open i think we are closer than most will espect and that is the truth heart intigurty and scheme will go a long way and doubters will see come fall

Wow… that’s quite a run-on sentence!

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