Smith impressed with D-line talent

Coach admits lack of numbers at tackle

If a clear path to a starting job was the goal, Malik Jackson probably picked the wrong program.

Tennessee might have some holes on its roster, but they certainly aren't at defensive line.

That doesn't mean the summertime transfer from Southern California won't win a gig when camp opens for the Vols on Wednesday, but as Jackson's new position coach reiterated over the weekend, it won't be easy considering where he'll be lining up this fall.

"Malik has an opportunity to be a great player here at Tennessee, just like everybody else does," defensive line coach Chuck Smith said. "But these guys aren't coming in here conceding anything to Malik Jackson - nor were there promises made to Malik Jackson. He's a good player who wants to develop, and he came here not just because of me or any particular person, he just liked the school and he wanted an opportunity.

"I think people might get it misconstrued that, 'Oh, Chuck recruited him or (coach) Derek (Dooley) called him.' Malik wanted to be here, and he's a guy that's going to help us, man. He just needs to do his job. He doesn't need to be Superman. He doesn't have to be the star."

It might have helped if he could be a tackle though, a spot which will likely be as thin to open the season as end is stacked for the Vols.

Expectations are high for a group led by seniors Chris Walker, Gerald Williams and Ben Martin, and the future also appears bright with true freshmen Corey Miller and Jacques Smith also primed to make an impact. Smith has also touted sophomore Willie Bohannon as a possible playmaker up front, and the addition of Jackson gave the former UT standout one more weapon at his disposal.

There still isn't much between all those bookends though, and the situation looked even more precarious when tackle Marlon Walls was suspended indefinitely after the Bar Knoxville brawls last month. The sophomore will likely return to the team and rejoin Montori Hughes on the interior of the line, but that represents just about all the meaningful experience UT will have to balance the veterans outside them.

"I'm happy (at end), but I'm also happy across the board," Smith said. "You can only coach what you've got. I mean, the ends are clearly - because they're a little more senior-laden - there's no question they don't take a backseat to anybody across the country. And with Marlon not being here right now, we have to hold our own. But are we sitting here crying? No.

"If guys do their job and play their position, we'll have a chance to be successful. Even if we had eight first-rounders on the line and could do that, if they don't do their job, play with passion and leverage and smart, it doesn't even matter. There's no question we're more equipped right now with the bodies at defensive end than at tackle, but all of them are developing. You can't cry about it, you just have to teach those guys to get better and win."

That process will pick back up again this week, and for Jackson it's surely not where he expected to be after two seasons with the Trojans.

If he was looking for a fresh start, he'll find it with Smith and the Vols. If it was guaranteed playing time, that's no sure thing at defensive end.

"We've got (Martin) and (Walker), Jacques and Corey have bright futures, and don't forget about Willie Bohannon, a guy who's going to be a great player, going to make lots of plays," Smith said. "I just need (Jackson) to be one of the components of a unit that plays as a unit and plays hard, plays with technique and plays with passion.

"I think Malik will have an opportunity to reach every goal he's ever wanted to reach in his football career. It's just a matter of starting with Chapter One, then we've got to go to Chapter Two."

It's almost time to officially crack that playbook.

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Comments » 39

BigBadVol writes:

Awesome! I love coach Smith. The man played with passion and skill and now he is teaching his methods to these young men. The future is bright on the d-line.

lseibers writes:

like what i hear go coach smith

bluetickhound writes:

we always always reload at D-line and linebacker. Guys just seem to step up at those spots for the vols (at least under Chavis anyway). I'm a lot more worried about the Oline.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

If we have such a talented group on D, any chance one or two of them can switch over to O ?? Any opinions on this?

nocleats writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

If we have such a talented group on D, any chance one or two of them can switch over to O ?? Any opinions on this?

Doubt it, they are Def Ends, not D tackles, and they are not big enough to play on the O line. We are deep at Def End and THIN on D tackles

n2thecheckerboards2 writes:

in response to bluetickhound:

we always always reload at D-line and linebacker. Guys just seem to step up at those spots for the vols (at least under Chavis anyway). I'm a lot more worried about the Oline.

Im not, Hiestand is one of the best Oline coaches in football. Every lineman he had when he coached at Illinois as their offensive line coach signed an NFL contract. The man is very good at what he does. If your talking about depth then yes, im worried.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

Awesome! I love coach Smith. The man played with passion and skill and now he is teaching his methods to these young men. The future is bright on the d-line.

i'm with you. coach smith, imo, was a good hire and i think he's gonna get the job done.

i'd rather hear good news on the D-Line than at any other position.

maybe one day we'll see al wilson walking the west sideline with a headset on.

largeandincharge writes:

williams is big enough, wonder if they will move him down into the inside

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

To say we are thin at DT is an understatement;I guarantee Chuck is worried about the total lack of depth!! IF Walls returns the backups will be Fowlkes and Sykes;2 converted DE that have a total of 3 tackles between them in 2009. Also Jeffery; redshirt 2009 probably because of bad ACL coming out of HS..I don't know the status of Brown..As a soph. Montori is good but I doubt he can play every down of every game. If they move G.Williams inside it may help; otherwise our failure to sign more than 3 DT in 2 recruiting classes has now come home to roost!!

VolGrad writes:

Off topic: I just read where Denver's Knowshon Moreno was injured on the first day of training camp. And he hasn't even faced KC and Eric Berry yet.

Never tire of watching this vid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-hqGr...

CroKev writes:

in response to VolGrad:

Off topic: I just read where Denver's Knowshon Moreno was injured on the first day of training camp. And he hasn't even faced KC and Eric Berry yet.

Never tire of watching this vid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-hqGr...

My wife heard that lick in the other room and asked what happened!

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

To say we are thin at DT is an understatement;I guarantee Chuck is worried about the total lack of depth!! IF Walls returns the backups will be Fowlkes and Sykes;2 converted DE that have a total of 3 tackles between them in 2009. Also Jeffery; redshirt 2009 probably because of bad ACL coming out of HS..I don't know the status of Brown..As a soph. Montori is good but I doubt he can play every down of every game. If they move G.Williams inside it may help; otherwise our failure to sign more than 3 DT in 2 recruiting classes has now come home to roost!!

Brown's just waiting on grades from summer classes. Not having him on the interior will hurt.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to Mule_Days_King:

Brown's just waiting on grades from summer classes. Not having him on the interior will hurt.

your right;he hasn't played a down but we are in desperate need of body's..It's hard to believe the small number of DT's signed in 3 years and the only one for 2011 is a 2 star reach..2011 class isn't great for DT and as far as I know not many even have UT in consideration..Even Fla and Bama are struggling to get guys signed..I suspect we will sign at least one or 2 juco guys

gnm53108 writes:

"Expectations are high for a group led by seniors Chris Walker, Gerald Williams and Ben Martin"

I,atleast,are with ya.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Justin Wilcox's scheme will use the smaller DE-types all around the front and LBs on the corners to confuse and wreak havoc on the opposing OLs. It'll be fun to watch.

GerryOP writes:

It's time for football news!!!!

33 -- Fear The Dooley Dude...

Volunatic writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

Justin Wilcox's scheme will use the smaller DE-types all around the front and LBs on the corners to confuse and wreak havoc on the opposing OLs. It'll be fun to watch.

Very good point. I'm glad we have an innovative DC with proven ability to use the personnel he has to stop varying types of offenses. We will need some superior defensive scheming this season more than usual.
GO VOLS!!!

10volunteers98 writes:

I`m anxious to see this defense coached by Justin Wilcox.He might be just what we need.Maybe now the Vols will stop opponents on third-and ten.It was pretty routine for opposing teams to get first downs on third-and-whatever under Chavis.Hope he has the same luck at LSU when the Vols play them.

d_ray writes:

If our defense is really good, that means other teams cannot score. If they cannot score, and we can kick one field goal.....we win. This article gives me something to cheer about.

TexTNFan writes:

The good thing about DE converting to a Tackle is they will be faster and be able to get more pressure on the QB and force bad throws. they might not be able to stop the run as well but we are strong in the LB position so they will have to step up as well.

I can't wait.

Mobbdeep4life writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

your right;he hasn't played a down but we are in desperate need of body's..It's hard to believe the small number of DT's signed in 3 years and the only one for 2011 is a 2 star reach..2011 class isn't great for DT and as far as I know not many even have UT in consideration..Even Fla and Bama are struggling to get guys signed..I suspect we will sign at least one or 2 juco guys

UT probably needs between 3 to 4 DT's in this class. You're right I haven't read too much about the DT's in the 2011 class. It's been heavy on DE's this year.
Maybe Malik Jackson and Gerald Williams can play DT on obvious pass situations at least.

Mobbdeep4life writes:

The depth at DT was made worse after losing Brandon Willis who was supposedly en route to Knoxville before he got a phone call.

nocleats writes:

in response to bluetickhound:

we always always reload at D-line and linebacker. Guys just seem to step up at those spots for the vols (at least under Chavis anyway). I'm a lot more worried about the Oline.

That was because we always signed 3 or 4 big D lineman in every class, but in 2008, 2009, and 2010, those numbers dropped and now we are thin. We will get better but we need to have 8-10 DTackles on the roster every year

VolQB writes:

Was there any punishment given to Hughes?

murrayvol writes:

in response to VolGrad:

Off topic: I just read where Denver's Knowshon Moreno was injured on the first day of training camp. And he hasn't even faced KC and Eric Berry yet.

Never tire of watching this vid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-hqGr...

Likewise.

murrayvol writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

To say we are thin at DT is an understatement;I guarantee Chuck is worried about the total lack of depth!! IF Walls returns the backups will be Fowlkes and Sykes;2 converted DE that have a total of 3 tackles between them in 2009. Also Jeffery; redshirt 2009 probably because of bad ACL coming out of HS..I don't know the status of Brown..As a soph. Montori is good but I doubt he can play every down of every game. If they move G.Williams inside it may help; otherwise our failure to sign more than 3 DT in 2 recruiting classes has now come home to roost!!

No DT can play every down of every game. It's too hard in there.

murrayvol writes:

Defense will be fine.
Special teams will be fine.
Offense will be offensive.
I have no problem winning 6-3.

BreatheUT writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

To say we are thin at DT is an understatement;I guarantee Chuck is worried about the total lack of depth!! IF Walls returns the backups will be Fowlkes and Sykes;2 converted DE that have a total of 3 tackles between them in 2009. Also Jeffery; redshirt 2009 probably because of bad ACL coming out of HS..I don't know the status of Brown..As a soph. Montori is good but I doubt he can play every down of every game. If they move G.Williams inside it may help; otherwise our failure to sign more than 3 DT in 2 recruiting classes has now come home to roost!!

The recruiting failures at DT started several years back without naming names.

mercyseat writes:

chavis had us ranked 3rd in the country going into the 2009 season. monty dropped us all the way down to 22nd. I'd say monty's defense was more tired than chavis'! yea.... some guru alright!

Pompey writes:

in response to SECFB:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

...nope, OL, they can control the ball keeping it away from a high powered off. DL second most important.

Groundedvol writes:

Wilcox's schemes might be able to hide this problem in some situations. Just having the right personnel in on the right play will be key. Guess you have to trust in your coaches and try to get a deep dt recruiting class. GBO!

bornonamoutaintop writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

If we have such a talented group on D, any chance one or two of them can switch over to O ?? Any opinions on this?

Does fumble recovery count? If our D is scary enough scores enoughand stops enough it will make life on the mountain good.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

Don't forget you can at times slip a good DE inside. The point is whether you are content to play in the gaps or not.

beachvol1 writes:

Hang in there Malik...now you know what it takes to play in the SEC....you can do it my brother....go for it....

Vol737 writes:

I love having Chuck Smith back here working with these guys on D-line. These guys will be coached up very well and only get better as the season goes on IMO. I'm confident coaches CS and JW will frustrate some very good offenses and keep us in games.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to gnm53108:

"Expectations are high for a group led by seniors Chris Walker, Gerald Williams and Ben Martin"

I,atleast,are with ya.

That makes two of us.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Mobbdeep4life:

The depth at DT was made worse after losing Brandon Willis who was supposedly en route to Knoxville before he got a phone call.

Oh yeah..how can I forget that??? No need to elaborate on that one.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mercyseat:

chavis had us ranked 3rd in the country going into the 2009 season. monty dropped us all the way down to 22nd. I'd say monty's defense was more tired than chavis'! yea.... some guru alright!

Very difficult to compare defenses from one year to another under different coaching staffs. For one thing, the playing personnel changes from one year to the next. For another, the 2009 team faced more good offenses than the 2008 team did. Chavis and Monte were and probably are great defensive coaches, but both had their shortcomings as well.

bobo96 writes:

in response to bluetickhound:

we always always reload at D-line and linebacker. Guys just seem to step up at those spots for the vols (at least under Chavis anyway). I'm a lot more worried about the Oline.

"we always always reload at D-line and linebacker. Guys just seem to step up at those spots for the vols (at least under Chavis anyway). I'm a lot more worried about the Oline.
"

That statement pretty much sums up the opinion of 92.3% of the folks that follow the Vols. Well said friend.

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