Jancek eager to rejuvenate Tennessee defense

Tennessee defensive coordinator and linebackers coach John Jancek talks with the media during an NCAA college football media availability at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)

Tennessee defensive coordinator and linebackers coach John Jancek talks with the media during an NCAA college football media availability at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek understands the magnitude of the job ahead of him even though recruiting demands have prevented him from watching much tape of his new team's 2012 performances.

That much was evident from a glance at the statistics that indicate Tennessee had one of its worst defenses in school history.

"We've got some work to do," Jancek said. "I understand that."

Tennessee allowed the most points (35.7) and yards (471.4) per game of any Southeastern Conference team this season. The Vols hadn't allowed that high a scoring average since 1893, when they gave up 42.7 points per game while playing a six-game schedule. Tennessee hadn't given up that many yards per game since at least 1950, the earliest year its sports information department has that statistic on file.

Jancek is aware of those struggles, but he isn't dwelling on them. He plans to focus on the future rather than worrying about what went wrong under the previous regime.

"We're not going to look back at last year," Jancek said. "We're going to be positive. We're going to identify our needs, we're going to address issues, we're going to progress and move forward."

Jancek, 44, has experience competing in the SEC and working alongside new Tennessee coach Butch Jones. Jancek and Jones were assistant coaches together at Central Michigan from 2003-04. Jancek went from there to Georgia, where he coached linebackers from 2005-09 and worked alongside current Tennessee safeties coach Willie Martinez.

He has spent the last three years working for Jones at Cincinnati. After serving as Cincinnati's co-defensive coordinator in 2010-11, he became the sole coordinator this year.

Cincinnati ranks 12th nationally in scoring defense (17.17) and 41st in total defense (373.8) this season. The Bearcats led the nation in tackles for loss and were second in sacks in 2011 while ranking 20th in scoring defense (20.3) and 42nd in total defense (357.4).

"He's a great teacher of the game," Martinez said. "I think that's important. He relates to the players really well. He's a fundamental coach, really good recruiter. ... He knows the conference, and that's important."

The new staff already has begun making changes.

During his introductory press conference Dec. 7, Jones announced the Vols would utilize a 4-3 defense. Tennessee switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme in 2012 under former defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri, though the Vols employed plenty of four-man fronts late in the season.

Jancek has concentrated his recruiting efforts on finding defensive linemen with the ability to thrive in a 4-3 system. Jancek also is looking for strong tacklers who can flourish in the physical style of defense he prefers.

"When people play Tennessee, they (should) know that they're in for a long day," Jancek said.

Jancek has spent so much time recruiting and evaluating prospects that he hasn't seen much of what the Vols did in 2012. He did watch tapes of a couple of games while on a flight.

"Recruiting's No. 1 right now," Jancek said. "We'll get to the film and start preparing for spring ball once we get done with recruiting."

Those tapes reveal why the Vols must recruit more talent on defense.

Linebacker A.J. Johnson ranked fourth nationally with 138 regular-season tackles as a sophomore this fall, but the Vols otherwise lack playmakers. They recorded just 17 sacks this year, the lowest total in the SEC. Tennessee's lack of speed in the secondary allowed opponents to produce touchdowns from just about anywhere on the field.

Tennessee expects to return 10 defensive players who made at least six starts this year, though linebacker Curt Maggitt must bounce back after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament on Nov. 10. The Vols also welcome back safety Brian Randolph, who was leading the team in tackles when he tore his ACL on Sept. 15. They do have to replace departing linebacker Herman Lathers and cornerback Prentiss Waggner.

Those returning players have endured plenty of upheaval.

Jancek represents the Vols' third defensive coordinator in as many years. Tennessee has posted three consecutive losing seasons. Yet Jancek isn't concerned about his players having a lack of confidence after their recent struggles.

"I don't worry about that at all," Jancek said. "The biggest thing is that we need to get in here and we need to get to work. With a good work ethic (and) guys that are showing up every day with the right attitude, the confidence will come. The confidence will come.

"You've got to go out and earn confidence. It's not anything that I can give you," he added. "It's not anything that any one particular coach (can give you). It's got to be earned over time. You've got to struggle. You've got to be able to get up again and again and get back in there. Eventually the confidence will come with success."

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Comments » 45

oldster writes:

It is hard to build anything with only one brick (Johnson).

volforeverandever writes:

Well coach,I am eager for that too.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to oldster:

It is hard to build anything with only one brick (Johnson).

There's more talent than just Johnson on this team, Randolph and some d-linemen played fairly well under a scheme they were ill-prepared to play in. UT has signed a solid JUCO DB and I feel they will sign at least another LB before Spring..

AlexAndersonAAradio writes:

Corch Irvan Meyers brought a staff from a small background when he went he left Utah for the Gata's.

JayTee writes:

Look for Johnson to end up with his hand on the ground as a DE.

ollias#273315 writes:

The silence from the new coaching staff on what the plans are to improve the kicking game and conditioning are deafening.

laraccoon writes:

in response to oldster:

It is hard to build anything with only one brick (Johnson).

i dont see it that way . i think good coaches find a way to utilize the talent they have .you recruit kids for several years to fit a 4-3 defensive scheme and suddenly switch them to a 3-4 and your going to have problems, something Dooley should have saw coming . i think weve been lacking much more from a coaching standpoint the last few years than from lack of talent . JMO

clvolfan writes:

"ONE OF THE WORSE DEFENSES"
How bout-the worse?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to clvolfan:

"ONE OF THE WORSE DEFENSES"
How bout-the worse?

Actually I believe the athletes weren't that bad, they posted a top 30 defense the year before. I'd say the the defense was the worst coached defense in the country..How's that?

OrangePride writes:

There is no doubt this new coaching team has arrived with a lot of cohesiveness, energy, and passion to return Tennessee to its traditional place in the SEC. But this is not going to be a 1, or even 2, year process. This coach needs to have 3 of his own recruiting classes in place before we can really see just what he might bring. If we could land a top 25 class this year, that would be remarkable. With a few good JUCO signs, that's not out of the question. But all of this said, I'm not so impressed with the previous statistical accomplishments KNS continues to cite. They were all garnered in the Big East which is a far cry from SEC level play. Had they played this level of competition, those figures would have been unlikely to be so impressive. But hey, lets just wait and see. These people really want to be here, have some great experience, and know where we all want to go. At this point, I'm at least optimistic we can get this turned around. So GO CBJ and STAFF! And GO VOLS! WELCOME TO BIG ORANGE COUNTRY!

OrangePride writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Actually I believe the athletes weren't that bad, they posted a top 30 defense the year before. I'd say the the defense was the worst coached defense in the country..How's that?

And on that point, I'm with you Beare! Actually, the personnel last year were better than the previous year, plus had that year of experience. No question....worst coached defense in the country.

iowavol writes:

in response to oldster:

It is hard to build anything with only one brick (Johnson).

I don't think you are looking at this correctly. Most of the players on defense were here in 2011 - when the defense was much better. In fact, the 2012 offense along with the 2011 defense equals a 9-3 or 10-2 record this past year.

A coach makes all the difference in the world - both ways. A good coach understands the capabilities and will scheme to take advantage of those skills. A bad coach - like Sunseri - tries to force a system regardless of skills and ends up exposing and magnifying every weakness. All of these athletes are D1 athletes. They may not be the best, may not be the strongest, may not be the fastest, but they are good athletes. A good coach can get much more out of them.

LivingLarge writes:

in response to OrangePride:

There is no doubt this new coaching team has arrived with a lot of cohesiveness, energy, and passion to return Tennessee to its traditional place in the SEC. But this is not going to be a 1, or even 2, year process. This coach needs to have 3 of his own recruiting classes in place before we can really see just what he might bring. If we could land a top 25 class this year, that would be remarkable. With a few good JUCO signs, that's not out of the question. But all of this said, I'm not so impressed with the previous statistical accomplishments KNS continues to cite. They were all garnered in the Big East which is a far cry from SEC level play. Had they played this level of competition, those figures would have been unlikely to be so impressive. But hey, lets just wait and see. These people really want to be here, have some great experience, and know where we all want to go. At this point, I'm at least optimistic we can get this turned around. So GO CBJ and STAFF! And GO VOLS! WELCOME TO BIG ORANGE COUNTRY!

OP, I agree with everything on your post except the reference to statistical variations between Big East and SEC play. Of course, the statistics would've been worse had he played an SEC schedule. But that's comparing apples and oranges (no pun intended). You can only judge someone on how he competed in his conference with a similar level of talent and resources. I played college football back in the dark ages, and actually played against Cincinnati at their place. The stadium was ancient then and even more so now. If Coach Jones can win conference championships at a basketball school with arguably the worst facilities in the county, imagine what he can do with the resources of UT behind him. He seems to be a man with a plan, and everything he does has a purpose. I, too, am optimistic he can turn it around -- in time.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to LivingLarge:

OP, I agree with everything on your post except the reference to statistical variations between Big East and SEC play. Of course, the statistics would've been worse had he played an SEC schedule. But that's comparing apples and oranges (no pun intended). You can only judge someone on how he competed in his conference with a similar level of talent and resources. I played college football back in the dark ages, and actually played against Cincinnati at their place. The stadium was ancient then and even more so now. If Coach Jones can win conference championships at a basketball school with arguably the worst facilities in the county, imagine what he can do with the resources of UT behind him. He seems to be a man with a plan, and everything he does has a purpose. I, too, am optimistic he can turn it around -- in time.

Great point, I to played against Cincy in that old Nippert stadium. Those facilities in 1980 were worse than my HS stadium/lockers.

SummerfieldVol writes:

That is why they are called Coaches ( teachers or instructors) His job is to teach the players what they are doing wrong and correct the problem by showing them what to do, not just stand and yell at a player if he is doing it wrong, show him the right way to do it. I think we have some pretty fair talent, but they were not showned or coached very well on how to play the 3-4 defense. We need to improve our defenseive backs speed that is for sure, also on how to anticipate what a receiver is going to do and not be so out of position. Coaching is the name of the game. You can take a three star player and a very good coach and have a five star preformance, you can also take a five star player and a so so coach and get a one star preformance.

manning_berry_special_player1614 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Actually I believe the athletes weren't that bad, they posted a top 30 defense the year before. I'd say the the defense was the worst coached defense in the country..How's that?

what can i say.....you said it all...very bad coaching....along with the fact that we need more speed in our secondary

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Actually I believe the athletes weren't that bad, they posted a top 30 defense the year before. I'd say the the defense was the worst coached defense in the country..How's that?

Good call..nobody could be very impressed by what the defensive assistants accomplished...Some said Hinshaw and Ansley are very good coaches but at the very least they should have taught the secondary to turn and look back for the ball! We can only go up from here. Stripling seems to have pretty good résumé, Our pass rush was pitiful last year..I really wish we could bring back Lance Thompson to coach LB,s..Great coach and even better recruiter..The front seven is not without talent..A beast at MLB would be a huge help..I long for the days of players like Al, Little and Earnest Fields..

TKO writes:

The need is speed.

wigmeister writes:

D will improve. O taking some hits with seniors gone and some going NFL. I think we are on a positive upswing, although it will take some time. Hope our special teams can really improve. That alone would help moving forward as a team! Have confidence in the new coaching staff. Looking forward to 2013. Hopefully the other sports programs playing before the new football season will give us lots to cheer about!

volunteer_cowboy writes:

tennessee has hired JR. Sandlin, alabama's RC as tennessee's RC

volunteer_cowboy writes:

http://www.footballscoop.com/the-scoop, Alabama recruiting assistant JR Sandlin has accepted the director of recruiting position with Tennessee.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Good call..nobody could be very impressed by what the defensive assistants accomplished...Some said Hinshaw and Ansley are very good coaches but at the very least they should have taught the secondary to turn and look back for the ball! We can only go up from here. Stripling seems to have pretty good résumé, Our pass rush was pitiful last year..I really wish we could bring back Lance Thompson to coach LB,s..Great coach and even better recruiter..The front seven is not without talent..A beast at MLB would be a huge help..I long for the days of players like Al, Little and Earnest Fields..

No doubt, UT did Lance wrong not offering him the DC position. At the very least they would have marginally regressed from what wilcox had in place. Oh well, just another botched coaching decision that cost Dooley his job along with his staff minus Graham.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to volunteer_cowboy:

http://www.footballscoop.com/the-scoop, Alabama recruiting assistant JR Sandlin has accepted the director of recruiting position with Tennessee.

That might actually work out because you can't argue with Bama's recruiting success..Thx for the link.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I'm a little bit hard to impress. BUT they are going back to 4-3. That impresses me enough. I actually liked Dooley. But He lost my confidence in going to 3-4 when he needed just to stop the other team enough to win. I don't care really what defense you use so long as it works. But with our current talent level 3-4 was an obvious throw away.

Good luck new coaches.

GBO Go VOLS!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to manning_berry_special_player1614:

what can i say.....you said it all...very bad coaching....along with the fact that we need more speed in our secondary

Zackly, but I contend that Stanford doesn't have blazing speed in their secondary (though it's not in the SEC) they play smart contain defense..Coaching can make up for lack of talent and hide flaws that would normally get exploited. That to me is where UT's coaching completely whiffed on last season..Hiding flaws.

6972 writes:

in response to SummerfieldVol:

That is why they are called Coaches ( teachers or instructors) His job is to teach the players what they are doing wrong and correct the problem by showing them what to do, not just stand and yell at a player if he is doing it wrong, show him the right way to do it. I think we have some pretty fair talent, but they were not showned or coached very well on how to play the 3-4 defense. We need to improve our defenseive backs speed that is for sure, also on how to anticipate what a receiver is going to do and not be so out of position. Coaching is the name of the game. You can take a three star player and a very good coach and have a five star preformance, you can also take a five star player and a so so coach and get a one star preformance.

Your comment," you can also take a 5 star player and a so so coach and get a 1 star performance",is well taken. May I add to it by saying, "You can also take a player with 5 star talent with a good or great coach but if his attitude sucks there is still poor performance." I/we have seen it at all levels of sports. ATTITUDE CAN BE EVERYTHING, REGARDLESS OF NATURAL TALENT. Any names come to mind? The list is both long and distinguished.

6972 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

That might actually work out because you can't argue with Bama's recruiting success..Thx for the link.

I hope this works out great. I am not familiar with this guys. I hope he is effective. It is well noted that certainly Bama has recruited great atheletes. My question is, "Is it this guy that is getting it done, or is it just the name SABAN that is drawing the atheletes? Time will answer that question also. I hope this guy has a LOT to do with their recruiting sucess. GBO.

OrangePride writes:

in response to LivingLarge:

OP, I agree with everything on your post except the reference to statistical variations between Big East and SEC play. Of course, the statistics would've been worse had he played an SEC schedule. But that's comparing apples and oranges (no pun intended). You can only judge someone on how he competed in his conference with a similar level of talent and resources. I played college football back in the dark ages, and actually played against Cincinnati at their place. The stadium was ancient then and even more so now. If Coach Jones can win conference championships at a basketball school with arguably the worst facilities in the county, imagine what he can do with the resources of UT behind him. He seems to be a man with a plan, and everything he does has a purpose. I, too, am optimistic he can turn it around -- in time.

Well, LL, I'm certain my playing days are further behind than yours since I was here in the mid 60's. Never played at Cincinnati but I have been there. You're absolutely right in that it is absolutely dismal in many respects...and not even on the same planet as Tennessee when it comes to attracting top flight talent. It is one of the reasons I feel this coaching staff will be successful in upgrading the athletes over the next three years. But that said, I still need to see them actually do what they believe (and say) they can do in getting us back that championship swagger. The recruiting competition in this league is extraordinary and almost every top SEC school has great facilities. So, how will these coaches cope with that upgrade? Time will tell. I do know this, however...if integrity, passion, and effort have anything at all to do with results (and I believe they have everything to do with results), then we can expect great things. Just let's be a little more patient this time round! See you at the stadium!

OrangePride writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Good call..nobody could be very impressed by what the defensive assistants accomplished...Some said Hinshaw and Ansley are very good coaches but at the very least they should have taught the secondary to turn and look back for the ball! We can only go up from here. Stripling seems to have pretty good résumé, Our pass rush was pitiful last year..I really wish we could bring back Lance Thompson to coach LB,s..Great coach and even better recruiter..The front seven is not without talent..A beast at MLB would be a huge help..I long for the days of players like Al, Little and Earnest Fields..

And a second thought on last year's D is in order. You had to notice that on scads of 3rd downs, we got burned on simple out patterns for 5-14 yards (go watch the Missouri game for the full lesson). It was incredible how bad we were...but it was NOT the fault of the players. We consistently lined up the cover LB 3 yards to the inside shoulder of the slot receiver. They ran a simple cris-cross and our LB was just never able to catch up with the play before the ball was in the air. You would think that after being burned on that about 10x, we would line head up and tight....nope, next time was the same base defensive alignment and as soon as they saw it, they checked off to the out. I can't tell you how hoarse I got screaming at SS!! Oh well...just one more adjustment never made. Hence, worst D in a century. But hey....a new era has begun!!

OrangePride writes:

And one last thing on that topic. It is one of the reasons our defense looked so "slow." It was not always that they were so slow; as often as not, they began out of position. IMO.

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

in response to TKO:

The need is speed.

Justin Coleman and Tino Thomas were both recruited with 4.4 speed.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to OrangePride:

And one last thing on that topic. It is one of the reasons our defense looked so "slow." It was not always that they were so slow; as often as not, they began out of position. IMO.

And pursuit angles were aimed behind the runner..What were they thinking??

trl_x writes:

Well I think one thing's for certain. The defense can't get any worse. The bar's pretty low. You can just step across it.

tennezz writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

Corch Irvan Meyers brought a staff from a small background when he went he left Utah for the Gata's.

I would like to gradulate corch Myra and the Gata`s

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

General Neyland couldn't win with the team we have coming back next year. Losing the best QB since Peyton Manning, 3 dynamic WR's and the best TE since Jason Witten will make the offense as bad as the defense was in 2011. The defense will move back to a 4-3 and that will help, but the offense is going to be inept. Hope Jones is given time to rebuild this mess.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Bark_at_the_Moon:

General Neyland couldn't win with the team we have coming back next year. Losing the best QB since Peyton Manning, 3 dynamic WR's and the best TE since Jason Witten will make the offense as bad as the defense was in 2011. The defense will move back to a 4-3 and that will help, but the offense is going to be inept. Hope Jones is given time to rebuild this mess.

It depends on how well our QB's grasp the new offense. TB has been in the same system for 3 years and that helped..Also, remember when Chizik and Malzahn took over at Aubie, they were very competitive early on because they understood the concept of the spread attack. Don't sell our athletes out so quickly, they may surprise you after they are exposed to good teachers/coach's.

Retiredvol writes:

in response to 6972:

Your comment," you can also take a 5 star player and a so so coach and get a 1 star performance",is well taken. May I add to it by saying, "You can also take a player with 5 star talent with a good or great coach but if his attitude sucks there is still poor performance." I/we have seen it at all levels of sports. ATTITUDE CAN BE EVERYTHING, REGARDLESS OF NATURAL TALENT. Any names come to mind? The list is both long and distinguished.

Case in point. Oregon excelled with 2 and 3 star players.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

I also would prefer that he not watch any tape.

Just recruit his rear off.

Large doable job for this gentlemen.

GBO

orangecountyvols writes:

B Beare and Orange Pride, plus other Vols,

Enjoyed you 2 guys reflections on playing the game of football. You've been there and done that. Look fwd to hearing more from you.

Merry Christmas

Noogaorange writes:

in response to oldster:

It is hard to build anything with only one brick (Johnson).

Every foundation starts with one brick/block.

Every program gets down. For all you bama haters me included I have provided a bit of info that will clarify down!

Between Alabama's 1992 national title under Gene Stallings and its 2009 BCS crown under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide were more recognized for coaching changes and NCAA sanctions than gridiron success.

Alabama won one SEC title in those 16 seasons, and it suffered losing records in 1997, 2000, '03 and '06.

Tennessee defeated Alabama seven consecutive times from 1995 to 2001, and Auburn won six straight Iron Bowls from 2002 to '07.

Now don't you feel better? I do!!!

GBO VFL17

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to Noogaorange:

Every foundation starts with one brick/block.

Every program gets down. For all you bama haters me included I have provided a bit of info that will clarify down!

Between Alabama's 1992 national title under Gene Stallings and its 2009 BCS crown under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide were more recognized for coaching changes and NCAA sanctions than gridiron success.

Alabama won one SEC title in those 16 seasons, and it suffered losing records in 1997, 2000, '03 and '06.

Tennessee defeated Alabama seven consecutive times from 1995 to 2001, and Auburn won six straight Iron Bowls from 2002 to '07.

Now don't you feel better? I do!!!

GBO VFL17

This speaks volumes as to Fulmer's success.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

B Beare and Orange Pride, plus other Vols,

Enjoyed you 2 guys reflections on playing the game of football. You've been there and done that. Look fwd to hearing more from you.

Merry Christmas

Likewise OCV..

murrayvol writes:

in response to OrangePride:

And one last thing on that topic. It is one of the reasons our defense looked so "slow." It was not always that they were so slow; as often as not, they began out of position. IMO.

So true OP....and so sad. Hope we never witness anything like this again.

murrayvol writes:

It goes w/o saying the Vol Nation would like to see the defense rejuvenated as well. What a year!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to murrayvol:

It goes w/o saying the Vol Nation would like to see the defense rejuvenated as well. What a year!

Re-tooled, not re-fooled..GBO!!

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