Derek Dooley's defensive philosophy
Tennessee plans to change its defensive approach for Saturday's game with Missouri. Finally, there's something that should have unanimous fan approval.
The Vols just gave up 48 points to Troy. They rank 112th in total defense and 115th in pass defense.
So any change should be applauded.
Try two players on the line and six in the secondary. Or six on the line and two in the secondary. Let the other three guys form a human pyramid.
At this juncture, nothing should be regarded as too extreme.
Putting the defense somewhat back together was the subject of coach Derek Dooley's Monday media conference. He said he will devote all of his attention to the defense this week, which qualifies as a drastic shift for a coach who usually concerns himself more with offense and special teams.
Since he's also calling for more input, I have a suggestion: Call former defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. Offer him his old job back. Double whatever he's making at the University of Washington.
I'm not talking about for next season. I mean right now.
Maybe the Vols couldn't have done anything to keep Wilcox at the end of last season, but they could have maintained a similar system, especially since the large majority of starters returned from his defense that ranked 27th nationally.
Those defenders might not be starters on a team like Alabama's. But they're better than what they have shown in first-year defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri's system.
Consider what the Vols had coming back on defense.
Five down linemen with at least three career starts and two who had started eight games last season. Two of those starters were beaten out by junior college transfers Darrington Sentimore and Daniel McCullers, so it's reasonable to assume the front line should have been both better and deeper.
Their returning linebacking corps consisted of four players who started at least eight games. Three of them — Herman Lathers, Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson — made the All-SEC freshman team in their first season. Johnson was a freshman All-American last season, and Maggitt was a third-team freshman All-American.
Seven defensive backs had started at least two games before this season. Five had started seven or more. Prentiss Waggner, who made second-team All-SEC in 2010, had 25 starts. Marsalis Teague had 21.
All the experience in the secondary makes you wonder why many players look so lost so often. You could wonder as much about the rest of the defense, which sometimes seems so slow to react that you think you are watching a slow-motion replay even when you're at the stadium.
Eight of the defensive players who started against
Troy were four-star recruits. After the worst defensive showing in school history, you might question every one of those stars.
There's too much evidence to the contrary, though. And there are too many reasons to believe this is more about coaches than players.
Dooley hasn't stood pat during the defensive debacle. He already has simplified the scheme. Now, he's adding his own brain, to the defensive brain trust as the Vols contemplate schematic changes for the last three games.
But if there's still room for one more defensive strategist, don't forget about Wilcox. Maybe he would give the Vols a few minutes as a consultant.