Strange: Defense Wilcox's work in progress

Mike Strange
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When your defense gives up 434 yards, that's a troublesome number.

However, when it's 110 yards fewer than the week before, hey, at least that's something.

When the other team's quarterback sprints 83 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, you might want to take off your headset and go find a bar stool. It's going to be a long day.

However, when the other team doesn't cross the goal line again for the next 59:47, you want to be smack dab in the middle of that action.

That was pretty much defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox's day at LSU last Saturday.

Wilcox knew it would be no picnic when he accepted Derek Dooley's invitation to leave a championship-caliber Boise State team and come direct Tennessee's defense.

Boise State's defense was in large part a done deal for 2010. With 10 returning starters, the heavy lifting was over.

Tennessee, in contrast, had a few pieces of the puzzle. But the holes outnumbered the pieces.

Wilcox spoke Wednesday of veteran teams being so set by opening day they go into "maintenance mode" for the season. He wasn't talking about the Vols.

"The work is never done for us,'' Wilcox said.

"We're too young, too inexperienced, so we've got to continue to get better each week.''

Five games in, the Vols reach the halfway point of the season Saturday when they go to Georgia. And there is in fact progress.

That progress is hard to pick out by perusing statistics. UT ranks low in most SEC defensive categories.

Furthermore, some might ask what progress is being made when you can't even get the proper number of players on the field at the end of a game.

"It was a unique situation,'' Wilcox said of the chaotic finish at LSU, "but at the end of the day it's our job, and my job on defense, to make sure we can react to anything that happens to us. So I failed us in that manner.''

Failure is not something often associated with Wilcox. Only 33, the former Oregon defensive back and son of NFL All-Pro linebacker Dave Wilcox was on top of the game at Boise.

The Broncos were 49-4 in his four seasons as coordinator. They ranked third nationally in 2009 in turnover margin and 14th in scoring defense.

Tennessee presented a considerable set of problems.

But it was there at LSU, the progress that gives hope to a better day at Georgia and beyond.

"There are certain players over the first five games who have shown noticeable improvement,'' Wilcox said.

Freshman lineman Jacques Smith is one of them. Marsalis Teague is another, coming on strong at cornerback.

Nick Reveiz and LaMarcus Thompson are getting the job done at Mike and Sam linebacker, respectively.

Safety Janzen Jackson is starting to play up to his talent. Four turnovers produced at LSU was definitely a positive sign.

"Turnovers happen,'' Wilcox said, "when you're playing fast and physical and know what you're doing. I think the guys are getting more comfortable each week.''

Just not too comfortable. Tennessee at mid-season is a long, long way from maintenance mode.

This is still survival mode. But look hard enough and there is progress.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276.

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Comments » 50

mattnchatt writes:

11 is the magic number. I believe in coach Wilcox but you gotta get the basics right first.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

Look, no one with sense doubts Wilcox is a good coach. Most of us believe he, CDD, and the others WILL be successful in the SEC.

The challenge is this: the SEC is NOT a QB conference. It's all about running backs, linemen, and anything defensive. Nearly every team has at least one player who will be playing on Sundays. Some teams have whole lineups of those types of players.

So, to keep my rambling short: unless you have the luck of Les Miles, coaches MUST keep their mistakes to a bare minimum. Once we get past that hump, we'll win some ballgames.

The7Maxims writes:

The missed tackles and poor technique concern me. I hope Wilcox works out, but the jury is still deliberating.

The7Maxims writes:

in response to UofTNFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think that defensive line will be a strength next year. We lose Cwalk, but Malik Jackson (who has proven that he'll play on Sundays) will be back, Jacques Smith, Marlon Walls,Corey Miller are all returning. I think that we'll beat out UCLA for Mickey Johnson plus land two more 4/5 star DT's.

Offensively, Justin Hunter is going to open everything up. Like Randy Moss in the NFL, he's going to force defenses to commit 2 DB's on him plus he'll stretch the field, leading to a lot of openings underneath for D. Rogers and company. The key will be protection and QB accuracy. If Poole continues to run like he's been running, the play-action is going to open up. Offensively, the future looks good. I think that in year 3, we'll be at the top of the SEC east.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to The7Maxims:

The missed tackles and poor technique concern me. I hope Wilcox works out, but the jury is still deliberating.

Some of that stuff is seemingly 'institutionalized'. Better talent, or at least more equalized talent, will hopefully result in better technique vis better competition for playing time.

Vol737 writes:

I think Wilcox did a pretty good job at Boise St. with mostly 3 star guys. With a little more time, our D will be light years ahead next year from where we are now...and we're not that bad now. Very impressed with Jacques Smith stepping in and up as a true freshman.

eb502us#225637 writes:

Only problem thus far with Wilcox is his conservatism.

He is simply afraid to bring a blitz in third and long situations, which is why our defense has given up so many conversions.

IMO, the LSU game was lost on the 4th and 14 play when Wilcox rushed on three and the QB sat in the pocket taking a lunch break while waiting for a receiver to come open. That was inexcusable regardless of our defensive limitations. You have to force LSU to make a play in that situation and if they do, so be it.

The way we lost that game made me sick to my stomach and for the second game in a row, Wilcox got his butt handed to him by the opposing offense in crucial situations.

Funny thing is, none of the beat reporters has mentioned his lack of aggression which shows you exactly how much they know. I may not be any smarter, but common sense definetly applies here.

GBOinGA writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Only problem thus far with Wilcox is his conservatism.

He is simply afraid to bring a blitz in third and long situations, which is why our defense has given up so many conversions.

IMO, the LSU game was lost on the 4th and 14 play when Wilcox rushed on three and the QB sat in the pocket taking a lunch break while waiting for a receiver to come open. That was inexcusable regardless of our defensive limitations. You have to force LSU to make a play in that situation and if they do, so be it.

The way we lost that game made me sick to my stomach and for the second game in a row, Wilcox got his butt handed to him by the opposing offense in crucial situations.

Funny thing is, none of the beat reporters has mentioned his lack of aggression which shows you exactly how much they know. I may not be any smarter, but common sense definetly applies here.

Dooley addressed this on his Sunday show. Wilcox did blitz earlier in that drive, and they picked it up easily. I'm not sure if the problem is scheme or talent, but blitzing in that situation would have been crazy.

OrangePride writes:

Here's the facts. 1. CDW came to an almost empty cupboard and is making due. 2. He's had 5 games under belt, not 5 seasons. 3. So far his defense has met 3 top 15 teams (which is bit stiffer than Boise's schedule). Given all that, LSU scored on the very first play of the game and then on the last play AFTER time had expired. Between those bookends, they got a fat 3 points. Given all of the above, I think DW had those guys ready to play. So let's us all be patient and see where we are a few seasons down the road. I'm certain we will be very pleased! GO VOLS!!

hikerdude writes:

in response to UofTNFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen!!

murrayvol writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

Look, no one with sense doubts Wilcox is a good coach. Most of us believe he, CDD, and the others WILL be successful in the SEC.

The challenge is this: the SEC is NOT a QB conference. It's all about running backs, linemen, and anything defensive. Nearly every team has at least one player who will be playing on Sundays. Some teams have whole lineups of those types of players.

So, to keep my rambling short: unless you have the luck of Les Miles, coaches MUST keep their mistakes to a bare minimum. Once we get past that hump, we'll win some ballgames.

Should be a finalist for best post of the day.

finn writes:

Although the results haven't been great, I think you can tell that the staff is doing the best they can with what's on the shelf. I also think a lot of guys are stepping it up and playing their hearts out. When you look at how many guys are playing positions they have never played or haven't played since high school, it's clear that our losses aren't for a lack of trying. LSU was tough and should have been avoided but those are the kind of mistakes inexperienced guys thrown in a pressure cooker make. Come November, UT is going to look much better and that's not just because the talent of our schedule is suddenly much worse.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Coach Wilcox and all of the coaches have my full support because it will take time to get everything clicking on all cylinders...Once more depth and talent arrives on both sides of the ball, you will see a huge difference..I am patient because I knew going into this year that it was gonna be a work in progress..All the hard work will pay off for everyone involved in the long run(2-3 years).

Anyway, I am glad to have CJW and all the coaches here on Rocky Top!!!

GBO!!!

orangeman1 writes:

in response to OrangePride:

Here's the facts. 1. CDW came to an almost empty cupboard and is making due. 2. He's had 5 games under belt, not 5 seasons. 3. So far his defense has met 3 top 15 teams (which is bit stiffer than Boise's schedule). Given all that, LSU scored on the very first play of the game and then on the last play AFTER time had expired. Between those bookends, they got a fat 3 points. Given all of the above, I think DW had those guys ready to play. So let's us all be patient and see where we are a few seasons down the road. I'm certain we will be very pleased! GO VOLS!!

UT may have played 3 top 10 teams, but they've only played 1 top 10 offensive team(Oregon). The rest of the teams UT played arent ranked in the top 45 offensively. UAB #46, Florida #84, LSU #91 and UT Martin. The defense has shown major problems and I had higher expectations for them. Especially hearing all the talk about how Wilcox does more with less talent. UT is ranked #77 nationally in defense and hasnt looked good all year-minus UT Martin. I, too, hope it will get better with time, but right now I'm dissappointed in them and Wilcox.

1974Vol writes:

in response to orangeman1:

UT may have played 3 top 10 teams, but they've only played 1 top 10 offensive team(Oregon). The rest of the teams UT played arent ranked in the top 45 offensively. UAB #46, Florida #84, LSU #91 and UT Martin. The defense has shown major problems and I had higher expectations for them. Especially hearing all the talk about how Wilcox does more with less talent. UT is ranked #77 nationally in defense and hasnt looked good all year-minus UT Martin. I, too, hope it will get better with time, but right now I'm dissappointed in them and Wilcox.

I agree mostly with what you say Orangeman, but I am seeing improvement week to week. If this D had one more healthy for real DT we would see alot of improvement immediately. This is a run first league and playing 245 lb converted DE & LBs at DT just won't cut it. If this team can get a big W on the road this week and not lose 1/2 the team to injury against a physical Bama O line, we have a chance then to run the table in the last 5 games and have a pretty descent season all things considered. Lots of IF's to get through first though.

NashvillePreds writes:

Beat uga.

jandjhome#228397 writes:

Wilcox you are paid big bucks to not scew-up.

unconquered writes:

This is what we deserve bringing in coaches from the Western Athletic Conference. Wilcox was great at Boise because they were vastly more athletic and talented than: LA Tech, Fresno St., Nevada, Hawai'i, Idaho, Utah St., San Jose St. and New Mexico St. Until I see some serious improvement and discipline coming from UT, I will continue to be jaded. UAB lost to UCF last night 42-7.

volunteers4life writes:

Look, I agree that our D has had some very bad spots in most of this year's games thus far. Primarily, second halves and 3rd or 4th down conversions have been our achilles heel this year. We are accustom to having a top D and an O that can't pass its way out of a paper bag throughout our recent past, for the most part anyway.

I believe that we are too thin, too small, too slow, and too young right now to have expected so much more from this D to the point where someone earlier stated that they are "disappointed" in our Defense's performance and Wilcox already. If you had much loftier expectations prior to the season, you were either deluding yourself or you failed to pay attention to the injury updates and position adjustments coming from the Hill throughout the summer.

Wilcox may have a certain type of player he prefers at certain positions and within his schemes, we really have no idea. That is why, normally, fans allow for a bit of a grace period/learning curve for most new Assistant Coaches, especially when a new Head Coach is being installed as well. The guy needs a little time to bring in players that fit with his philosophies, to develop his players within his schemes, and to get better acquainted with the offenses he will see annually in the SEC.

I see most of our D performing passionately and selflessly more often than not, they deserve to be commended for this dedication, rather than ridiculed or picked apart, IMO.

Go VOLS!

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Only problem thus far with Wilcox is his conservatism.

He is simply afraid to bring a blitz in third and long situations, which is why our defense has given up so many conversions.

IMO, the LSU game was lost on the 4th and 14 play when Wilcox rushed on three and the QB sat in the pocket taking a lunch break while waiting for a receiver to come open. That was inexcusable regardless of our defensive limitations. You have to force LSU to make a play in that situation and if they do, so be it.

The way we lost that game made me sick to my stomach and for the second game in a row, Wilcox got his butt handed to him by the opposing offense in crucial situations.

Funny thing is, none of the beat reporters has mentioned his lack of aggression which shows you exactly how much they know. I may not be any smarter, but common sense definetly applies here.

I respectfully disagree about the fourth and fourteen call. Nobody came open. Young qb Lee threw into triple coverage. Triple.
The fact is, their guy made a play, our guys did not. But they were in position to make one, and that's what the D.C's job is. To put them in position to make a play. If any of our guys on that play break on the ball or time the hit properly, they break up the play and we get the ball. My point is, just because the play didn't work out like we wanted, doesn't make it a bad call.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to volunteers4life:

Look, I agree that our D has had some very bad spots in most of this year's games thus far. Primarily, second halves and 3rd or 4th down conversions have been our achilles heel this year. We are accustom to having a top D and an O that can't pass its way out of a paper bag throughout our recent past, for the most part anyway.

I believe that we are too thin, too small, too slow, and too young right now to have expected so much more from this D to the point where someone earlier stated that they are "disappointed" in our Defense's performance and Wilcox already. If you had much loftier expectations prior to the season, you were either deluding yourself or you failed to pay attention to the injury updates and position adjustments coming from the Hill throughout the summer.

Wilcox may have a certain type of player he prefers at certain positions and within his schemes, we really have no idea. That is why, normally, fans allow for a bit of a grace period/learning curve for most new Assistant Coaches, especially when a new Head Coach is being installed as well. The guy needs a little time to bring in players that fit with his philosophies, to develop his players within his schemes, and to get better acquainted with the offenses he will see annually in the SEC.

I see most of our D performing passionately and selflessly more often than not, they deserve to be commended for this dedication, rather than ridiculed or picked apart, IMO.

Go VOLS!

Look, I dont have lofty expectations. Expecting veteran players to tackle isnt lofty. Its standard. Expecting coaches to put players in the right places and not have too many or too few men on the field isnt lofty. I know depth is an issue in some spots, but there is alot of talent and experience on defense and if Wilcox can do more with less like alot of fans were saying, then the defense should be performing better at this point. Defenses are pretty standard and I dont think Wilcox getting players to fit his system system is the problem. I dont know how anyone could be pleased with the way our defense has played to this point. Dissappointed is about the lightest word I could come up with without sounding too negative. I have been disgusted at times. Remember them giving up against Oregon? Remember all the missed tackles in every game? Remember the defensive mess up that cost us the LSU game. Yea, I think dissappointed would accurately depict how I've felt about the defense thus far, but I'm glad you are pleased with it. And you call me delusional?

unconquered writes:

in response to unleashedslimsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, I'm not saying that. In six months Wilcox WILL bring in talent but if that talent is the same as the talent he brought into Boise we won't get back to national dominance. That kind of talent won't hold up to SEC talent week in and week out, I think we can all agree on that. Then again, Wilcox should be able to bring in SEC talent but we will have to wait and see. We should have been able to put up 42+ against UAB. I just needed to vent on the WAC because I hate mid-majors. I'm sick and tired of whats been going on with UT football. I had to sit there while in school and watch us lose to vandy at home. I just don't want to wait any more, but I'm going to have too.

Slim Smokey you're right though and your points were valid. I should have thought through my comment before posting instead of just venting.

VOLliven2it writes:

What the heck do you naysayers expect? Good grief, we knew coming in it was going to be brutal. Did you thoughtful people not realize that or just try to deny it? Go on and on, Wilcox didn't blitz(ie eb502us)and how could we bring a WAC coach in here and expect something?
I have a suggestion to you tough know it all guys. You man up, get your coalition together and go try to coach this defense with the few players, the inexperience and youth. See how great you are. You cannot blitz without the people with which to do it. We currently are not at that level. Give us all a break please. We want to win and feel the gutwrench when we don't, especially last Sat. But give the coaches more time to do the job. Now we have that out of the way, who's for hoping the Vols spank the Bulldogs Sat.? I for one am such a person. GO VOLS!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to GBOinGA:

Dooley addressed this on his Sunday show. Wilcox did blitz earlier in that drive, and they picked it up easily. I'm not sure if the problem is scheme or talent, but blitzing in that situation would have been crazy.

Here is where I disagree:
on 4th and 14, they need 1 of 3 things:
-a screen
-a pass taking 3 counts to get open
-a quick hitter to a single-covered recr

considering down and distance and time remaining, it was worth our risk to bring an extra guy off the edge and a delay blitz from the middle (reading middle screen first).

Eric Gordan or Jackson may have the speed and athleticism for the corner blitz package.

Moot point now, fun to discuss.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

BTW, did anybody, ANYBODY else think
"LSU is just STUPID"???

To me, they could have run the ball down our throats the entire day...why where they passing at all??

UGA will try to run, I think. They will run and run and run....everyone else on our sched will, too.

bUTchVFL writes:

in response to orangeman1:

UT may have played 3 top 10 teams, but they've only played 1 top 10 offensive team(Oregon). The rest of the teams UT played arent ranked in the top 45 offensively. UAB #46, Florida #84, LSU #91 and UT Martin. The defense has shown major problems and I had higher expectations for them. Especially hearing all the talk about how Wilcox does more with less talent. UT is ranked #77 nationally in defense and hasnt looked good all year-minus UT Martin. I, too, hope it will get better with time, but right now I'm dissappointed in them and Wilcox.

You can't expect a top 10 defense with the third coaching staff in three years and a ton of young players on the DL. No pass rush will make a lot of offenses look better. If we don't get a rush on Murray this weekend Georgia will smoke us. If we can keep UGA under 17 pts we win, if not 2-4 for the Vols.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to bUTchVFL:

You can't expect a top 10 defense with the third coaching staff in three years and a ton of young players on the DL. No pass rush will make a lot of offenses look better. If we don't get a rush on Murray this weekend Georgia will smoke us. If we can keep UGA under 17 pts we win, if not 2-4 for the Vols.

I never said I expected a top 10 defense. Just one that can make tackles, not quit, and have the right amt of players on the field. It not like UT has played great offenses, and to be ranked #77 in defense is not what fans should expect from UT, even with the lack of depth. I thought 5 of the front 7 were SR or JR. I am not trying to be a naysayer. I am just saying what I've seen so far this season. I am not saying Wilcox wont turn it around, but right now, I dont see how anyone can be pleased with the way the defense has played to this point.

OrangePride writes:

in response to orangeman1:

UT may have played 3 top 10 teams, but they've only played 1 top 10 offensive team(Oregon). The rest of the teams UT played arent ranked in the top 45 offensively. UAB #46, Florida #84, LSU #91 and UT Martin. The defense has shown major problems and I had higher expectations for them. Especially hearing all the talk about how Wilcox does more with less talent. UT is ranked #77 nationally in defense and hasnt looked good all year-minus UT Martin. I, too, hope it will get better with time, but right now I'm dissappointed in them and Wilcox.

True, that we haven't played top 10 offenses in every game, but I doubt anyone can argue that Coach Wilcox is having to do a great deal "more with less" this season than perhaps any in his career. In addition, I think playing in the SEC will take at least one time through for him, or any outside coach, to get a feel for what might work best. We'll see. In the meantime, I think each game has helped us show improvement and I am pretty confident Wilcox is going to be an outstanding fit over the longer run of the season. I guess we will have to see if I'm right. GO VOLS!!

bUTchVFL writes:

Saying you are not pleased with the defense is stating the obvious, unless you are a Vandy fan and like losing. No one is saying they are pleased, but I feel a whole lot better about UT that I would as an LSU fan. They have an established coaches and players. I would be furious if I were and LSU fan.

OrangePride writes:

in response to orangeman1:

I never said I expected a top 10 defense. Just one that can make tackles, not quit, and have the right amt of players on the field. It not like UT has played great offenses, and to be ranked #77 in defense is not what fans should expect from UT, even with the lack of depth. I thought 5 of the front 7 were SR or JR. I am not trying to be a naysayer. I am just saying what I've seen so far this season. I am not saying Wilcox wont turn it around, but right now, I dont see how anyone can be pleased with the way the defense has played to this point.

You know, I'm sitting in the stands before the Oregon, Florida, and LSU (actually at a sportsbar for that one) and I am hearing most everyone saying, "Boy if we are within 20, we are doing well." Then we are not only in the game at better than 20, but in two of those cases in the fourth quarter with winning chances. To my mind this means the defense, although not top 10 and yes it did turn in a stinker against UAB, is doing pretty well. Given our depth issues and having to patch things together in a number of key positions, I would call that pretty good coaching. So, unlike you, I am not "displeased," even though you seem to think I should be. GO VOLS.

IndyVolFan writes:

{Boise State's defense ... with 10 returning starters...

Tennessee, in contrast, had a few pieces of the puzzle. But the holes outnumbered the pieces. Wilcox spoke Wednesday of veteran teams being so set by opening day they go into "maintenance mode" for the season. He wasn't talking about the Vols.

"The work is never done for us,'' Wilcox said.

"We're too young, too inexperienced, so we've got to continue to get better each week.''}

_____________________________________

Everyone re-read this portion several times and search inside your fair-weather minds for a thing called perspective.

We all knew the D would get eaten up with an inexperienced, <260lb d-line against >300 lb linemen. Then add in the youth factor and marvel that we have done as well as we have.

No one likes to see their team down, but remember we are building for a future here.

James33 writes:

CJW's lack of aggression on defense concerns me. Consider this statistic: in 5 games, UT has exactly 5 QB sacks (ranking 107th among FBS teams). Under former DC Johnny Chavis, UT would have had 5 sacks by halftime of the 2nd game. Chavis understood what Wilcox does not: in the SEC, playing (and coaching) defense is not for the faint of heart. It's all-out war, with no quarter asked or given. You need a bit of a mean streak, a street-fighter mentality, to coach and play D in the SEC. To use a Civil War analogy, our defense is being led by General McClellen, when we need General Grant.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to OrangePride:

True, that we haven't played top 10 offenses in every game, but I doubt anyone can argue that Coach Wilcox is having to do a great deal "more with less" this season than perhaps any in his career. In addition, I think playing in the SEC will take at least one time through for him, or any outside coach, to get a feel for what might work best. We'll see. In the meantime, I think each game has helped us show improvement and I am pretty confident Wilcox is going to be an outstanding fit over the longer run of the season. I guess we will have to see if I'm right. GO VOLS!!

The LSU offense is ranked 91st in the country so while there may be improvement in some areas, giving up over 400yds and the debacle at the end of the game doesnt give me alot of confidence that UT can stop a team with a good offense. I hope Wilcox can get the defense together because right now they are underperforming.

mercyseat writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

Look, no one with sense doubts Wilcox is a good coach. Most of us believe he, CDD, and the others WILL be successful in the SEC.

The challenge is this: the SEC is NOT a QB conference. It's all about running backs, linemen, and anything defensive. Nearly every team has at least one player who will be playing on Sundays. Some teams have whole lineups of those types of players.

So, to keep my rambling short: unless you have the luck of Les Miles, coaches MUST keep their mistakes to a bare minimum. Once we get past that hump, we'll win some ballgames.

We did have the luck of les miles(UAB, 5 missed field goals!)I agree with you mostly, and that turnovers and the ablity to capitalize on them are key to Wilcox's defense,but I dont care what anyone says, OUR CORNERBACKS AND SAFTIES ARE TERRIBLE! I've know i've said that on other posts, but they've been playing like they're in a fog! If Jackson would lead by example, like in the LSU game, he could really help waggner, evans and wolf etc. just to keep focus to what they're doing. I know they have it in them but they're young and I'll cheer them no matter what. Go Vols baby!!!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to The7Maxims:

The missed tackles and poor technique concern me. I hope Wilcox works out, but the jury is still deliberating.

UT has suffered from poor tackling and techniques for years, well back into the Chavis days and continuing to this point, including last year with Monte. That doesn't get fixed in a few games, especially with so many young players. It is premature to conjecture whether Wilcox is a good coach or not as he doesn't have players he recruited and has had only a few months to install his system. The situation at the end of the game is regrettable but happens. More concerning to me is the missed FG, LSU getting both a 3rd and 20 conversion and a 4th and 14 conversion, a pitiful 4th and 1 we lost yardage on, and Simms complete misunderstanding of milking a clock with a lead. Those are the "little things" that winning teams do that we didn't. And believe me, the only thing madder than a UT fan right now is an LSU Tiger. All that NFL talent, and still needed us to help them win. Wow. Go Vols!!!

orangeman1 writes:

in response to bUTchVFL:

Saying you are not pleased with the defense is stating the obvious, unless you are a Vandy fan and like losing. No one is saying they are pleased, but I feel a whole lot better about UT that I would as an LSU fan. They have an established coaches and players. I would be furious if I were and LSU fan.

Apparantly saying I am disappointed or displeased is wrong according to some on here. Sorry to have offended anyone by expressing my thoughts. Maybe my expectations were too high, but they are my expectations. I dont think I'm delusional, and the ones critcizing me for expressing my displeasure can just accept the bad play thusfar as being ok. I cant

mercyseat writes:

in response to orangeman1:

UT may have played 3 top 10 teams, but they've only played 1 top 10 offensive team(Oregon). The rest of the teams UT played arent ranked in the top 45 offensively. UAB #46, Florida #84, LSU #91 and UT Martin. The defense has shown major problems and I had higher expectations for them. Especially hearing all the talk about how Wilcox does more with less talent. UT is ranked #77 nationally in defense and hasnt looked good all year-minus UT Martin. I, too, hope it will get better with time, but right now I'm dissappointed in them and Wilcox.

Now that should be voted #1 post of the day!

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to chuma:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I can live with that.

bUTchVFL writes:

in response to orangeman1:

Apparantly saying I am disappointed or displeased is wrong according to some on here. Sorry to have offended anyone by expressing my thoughts. Maybe my expectations were too high, but they are my expectations. I dont think I'm delusional, and the ones critcizing me for expressing my displeasure can just accept the bad play thusfar as being ok. I cant

Dude, no one is saying it is ok, just get some perspective. Lee Iacocca didn't turn Chrysler around overnight. Give it time before you start treating it like the team is full of failures. They are doing the best they can with the talent they have.

mercyseat writes:

in response to orangeman1:

Look, I dont have lofty expectations. Expecting veteran players to tackle isnt lofty. Its standard. Expecting coaches to put players in the right places and not have too many or too few men on the field isnt lofty. I know depth is an issue in some spots, but there is alot of talent and experience on defense and if Wilcox can do more with less like alot of fans were saying, then the defense should be performing better at this point. Defenses are pretty standard and I dont think Wilcox getting players to fit his system system is the problem. I dont know how anyone could be pleased with the way our defense has played to this point. Dissappointed is about the lightest word I could come up with without sounding too negative. I have been disgusted at times. Remember them giving up against Oregon? Remember all the missed tackles in every game? Remember the defensive mess up that cost us the LSU game. Yea, I think dissappointed would accurately depict how I've felt about the defense thus far, but I'm glad you are pleased with it. And you call me delusional?

That's exactly how I feel, and ya just know Monty Kiffin is doubled over laughing his azz off!

orangeman1 writes:

in response to bUTchVFL:

Dude, no one is saying it is ok, just get some perspective. Lee Iacocca didn't turn Chrysler around overnight. Give it time before you start treating it like the team is full of failures. They are doing the best they can with the talent they have.

I am just judging them on their performance up to now. I dont know what the future holds, but imo they arent doing the best they can with what they have. I expect more than what I've seen so far.

bUTchVFL writes:

in response to mercyseat:

That's exactly how I feel, and ya just know Monty Kiffin is doubled over laughing his azz off!

USC's defense is statistically worse than UT's. He's not doing any laughing. They have played cupcakes up till now. We'll see how they do against Oregon. Son may have to have a difficult talk with daddy.

mercyseat writes:

in response to unconquered:

No, I'm not saying that. In six months Wilcox WILL bring in talent but if that talent is the same as the talent he brought into Boise we won't get back to national dominance. That kind of talent won't hold up to SEC talent week in and week out, I think we can all agree on that. Then again, Wilcox should be able to bring in SEC talent but we will have to wait and see. We should have been able to put up 42+ against UAB. I just needed to vent on the WAC because I hate mid-majors. I'm sick and tired of whats been going on with UT football. I had to sit there while in school and watch us lose to vandy at home. I just don't want to wait any more, but I'm going to have too.

Slim Smokey you're right though and your points were valid. I should have thought through my comment before posting instead of just venting.

No we all do not agree! It amazes me that some people think players from other conferences just are'nt good enough to play in the SEC. Boise st. is ranked 4th in the NATION, not conference, but NATION! That tells me those 2 and 3 star players (team) have been coached up and over all teams in the SEC (except for Alabama) and nation that's ranked behind 4th nation wide!

HoustonVol writes:

I have noticed that it usually takes most of a season for a team to adjust to a new defensive coord calls and playing style. I will not judge Wilcox until the end of next year.

Ralph_Crampton writes:

Knock off the comments about Vol coaches...the best players win the big games...it has not changed since the game was formed. What the Vols need are some big fast dudes...we'll get these guys...and then look out. Dooley is much like Dickey, the Vols had nothing when he signed on, but by the second year, the Volunteers were in the top 10. I just hope he can recruit like Dickey...I think he can.

acarr13 writes:

So far Wilcox has shown nothing. His defense was good at Boise State where he played a bunch of high school teams and one top 25 team a year, but here, all he has done is give up yards and field players that cant tackle. I love UT and always will no matter the coaches, but im not jumping on their sack (like i did Kiffin) until they prove they can beat teams other than Martin and UAB. (UCF put up 42 on UAB and only gave up 7, thats pretty pathetic looking back at our game against them.) We might win 4 to 5 games if we dont improve fast. Sorry for my negativity but im a realist and thats how i see it. I hope im wrong and we kill UGA and head to a bowl but i will be surprised.

LaneBrains writes:

You guys complain a lot! He is no Monte, that 's for sure, but no one is...and of course, CDD is no CLK...and no one on that staff is the = of Ed O. What did you expect?! The only close match in Hamilton to Hayden....Hammy is the best...we're all still laughing when we get the bank statements!

Miss ya-

johnlg00 writes:

in response to The7Maxims:

The missed tackles and poor technique concern me. I hope Wilcox works out, but the jury is still deliberating.

To be fair, a goodly number of guys playing major minutes on defense right now were either in high school or buried deep on the bench just a year ago. Very few on our current defense could have started for Wilcox's BSU defensive units. Some of the vets who should be sure tacklers, such as Reveiz and Jackson, may be getting worn down in the late stages of games. Given his track record, there is no reason to think Wilcox won't get it done when he gets enough depth and talent on the squad.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Only problem thus far with Wilcox is his conservatism.

He is simply afraid to bring a blitz in third and long situations, which is why our defense has given up so many conversions.

IMO, the LSU game was lost on the 4th and 14 play when Wilcox rushed on three and the QB sat in the pocket taking a lunch break while waiting for a receiver to come open. That was inexcusable regardless of our defensive limitations. You have to force LSU to make a play in that situation and if they do, so be it.

The way we lost that game made me sick to my stomach and for the second game in a row, Wilcox got his butt handed to him by the opposing offense in crucial situations.

Funny thing is, none of the beat reporters has mentioned his lack of aggression which shows you exactly how much they know. I may not be any smarter, but common sense definetly applies here.

No question that 4th-and-14 conversion was a killer. However, one thing I have noticed on more than one occasion when we have tried blitzes is that our rushers seem to get in each other's way a lot. We seldom see a blitzer come free on the QB.

It also seems that on many occasions when we have tried to bring extra rushers, the opponents have chosen to use maximum protection, causing logjams in front of the pocket and giving the QB time to make a good throw. Maybe we are tipping our blitzes too early. Maybe our young defenders are not taking the proper routes through the line. We have gotten a LOT of hits on opposing QB's, we have just been a split-second late on them.

Maybe that is the difference between a 3-star and a 5-star rusher. A coach can only do so much; players have to execute for any scheme to work. As for the choice whether or not to blitz on any given play, LSU was one of the lowest-ranked passing offenses in the league; they had not shown any likelihood of picking apart a pass defense on a regular basis. The percentages may well have been to force the QB to find a receiver in blanket coverage. Sometimes you win those gambles and sometimes you lose, especially when you have no assurance that either the all-out rush or the max coverage scheme will work most of the time.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Lostvolinhighweeds:

I respectfully disagree about the fourth and fourteen call. Nobody came open. Young qb Lee threw into triple coverage. Triple.
The fact is, their guy made a play, our guys did not. But they were in position to make one, and that's what the D.C's job is. To put them in position to make a play. If any of our guys on that play break on the ball or time the hit properly, they break up the play and we get the ball. My point is, just because the play didn't work out like we wanted, doesn't make it a bad call.

Excellent! Agree completely!

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