With coaches on sidelines, UT defense will be pushed toward 'accountability' in scrimmage

Coaches on sidelines for scrimmage

Tennessee assistant head coach Steve Stripling answers a question during a press conference in the Stokely Family Media Center at Neyland Stadium Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee assistant head coach Steve Stripling answers a question during a press conference in the Stokely Family Media Center at Neyland Stadium Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Mike Bajakian discusses Tennessee's offense

Tennessee coaches still will be yelling during Saturday’s scrimmage at Neyland Stadium. They’ll just be doing it from the sidelines.

That means young players, some for the first time, will be totally on their own in the seconds leading up to the snap.

“You’re looking for accountability without the coaches,” said defensive line coach and associate head coach Steve Stripling. “It’ll be the first time they’ll be out there without the coaches, just playing ball.”

In some ways, Tennessee’s second scrimmage of the year will be similar to the first. The Vols will work on different situations and field positions rather than letting the starting point be set by a kickoff or punt.

But the first scrimmage was only a few days into spring camp, and players were still learning the basics. Today, coaches will give them more autonomy.

“The coaches are off the field,” Stripling said. “You’re looking for communication, because we’re not going to be out there directing everything.”

Those changes could be more noticeable on defense, where players will be challenged to make the right calls in response to the Vols’ fast-paced offense.

Defensive coordinator John Jancek said scrimmages offer the best way to evaluate players because the offense is unpredictable.

“That’s football, when you don’t know whether it’s a run or pass,” Jancek said. “A lot of times we do an inside drill and they all know it’s run or they all know it’s pass. It’s advantage defense.

“But when you go 11-on-11, it could be a screen, it could be a run, it could be a pass, it could be a boot. Those are the things you want to see your guys react to.”

Jancek has been critical of the Vols’ fundamentals, including poor tackling, and he said scrimmages are the purest way to evaluate tacklers.

“You can’t be a good defense and not be able to tackle,” he said.

For players battling for jobs, scrimmage grades are especially important.

Stripling has 13 scholarship defensive linemen to work with in the spring, and three more will arrive in the fall.

The lineup is still in flux, but most recently Marlon Walls and Jacques Smith were working outside on the first team, while Daniel McCullers and Daniel Hood played inside. Smith was the “Leo end,” the sort of linebacker hybrid in Jancek’s 4-3 set.

All four players on that hypothetical starting front are seniors.

More veterans are on a potential second team, including Corey Miller, Jordan Williams and Trevarris Saulsberry. Senior Mo Couch has been limited this spring due to injury and won’t be playing in the scrimmages.

But it’s the crop of youngsters behind those groups that most intrigue Stripling, especially because the spring is the best time to get an extended viewing.

That group includes freshman Corey Vereen and redshirt freshmen LaTroy Lewis and Danny O’Brien.

“They’re not getting as many reps as the ones and twos, but they are getting experience,” Stripling said.

Jancek wants to see every defender — young and experienced — make strides Saturday in wrapping up tacklers.

“We’ll find out if all the drills and things we’re doing work,” he said. “It’s a live day, and they’ll be able to play some football.”

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 27

Rockytopfan96 writes:

Cant wait till Saturday

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Jancek needed to be here around 2009 or so..GBO!!

pingkr62 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Jancek needed to be here around 2009 or so..GBO!!

The same could be said for the entire staff.:)

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to pingkr62:

The same could be said for the entire staff.:)

Good point..I just remember leaving Vaught Hemingway Stadium (2009) thinking: " Why are paying Monte Kiffin over 1 million a year??"

pingkr62 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Good point..I just remember leaving Vaught Hemingway Stadium (2009) thinking: " Why are paying Monte Kiffin over 1 million a year??"

That was a pretty embarrassing loss. One of many that got away.

62vol writes:

Once upon a time, live schrimmages were the only way to really sort out the men from the boys. I think this group of Vols could use as much live action as the rules allow.

GrandCanyonVol writes:

You win games with great defense. If the other team only scores a field goal, then it takes only 4 points to win the game. That's the way football used to be played. I have never liked each team scoring 50 points a piece. Play tough defense and get back to Tennessee football. Make Tennessee proud. You can do this.

Nighthawk writes:

Has anybody else noticed the absence of any comments by Gillespie and the running backs? All of the other coaches are doing interviews, videos, etc. Any clues?

Teresa writes:

in response to Nighthawk:

Has anybody else noticed the absence of any comments by Gillespie and the running backs? All of the other coaches are doing interviews, videos, etc. Any clues?

He was available to the media this week because I heard a good interview with him by Jimmy Hyams. I can see why players like him.

He said on fumbles, he makes them run until he's not mad anymore. It was pretty funny.

CroKev writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Good point..I just remember leaving Vaught Hemingway Stadium (2009) thinking: " Why are paying Monte Kiffin over 1 million a year??"

If the Vols would have just assigned one LB to McCluster (with no other responsibilities), we would have shut them down...

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to CroKev:

If the Vols would have just assigned one LB to McCluster (with no other responsibilities), we would have shut them down...

That would have been Janzen Jackson's job, and he was one of the best at it. Unfortunately, he and a couple of others got in a little legal scrape right before that game and he was suspended. That forced a major re-alignment in the defense with very little time to prepare, and left it wide open for McCluster that day.

SevenT writes:

in response to Rockytopfan96:

Cant wait till Saturday

Can't wait until Saturday........you must lead a pretty boring life

Just Saying

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to SevenT:

Can't wait until Saturday........you must lead a pretty boring life

Just Saying

Your comment is hilarious considering how much you troll this site d-bag
lock that up

iowavol writes:

in response to 62vol:

Once upon a time, live schrimmages were the only way to really sort out the men from the boys. I think this group of Vols could use as much live action as the rules allow.

Sean Connery, right?

SevenT writes:

in response to VolFanInTheBoro:

Your comment is hilarious considering how much you troll this site d-bag
lock that up

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sir_Spanky writes:

Can't tackle? I've noticed that myself. In fact, watching last season's defense was about as fun as getting a barium inima. Glad the new staff has taken notice.

allvol8 writes:

in response to Sir_Spanky:

Can't tackle? I've noticed that myself. In fact, watching last season's defense was about as fun as getting a barium inima. Glad the new staff has taken notice.

you should know... btw it's Enema... which you need the Triple H to make your brown eyes blue.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to CroKev:

If the Vols would have just assigned one LB to McCluster (with no other responsibilities), we would have shut them down...

Under Kiffin no team at UT/USC were able to stop spread attack offenses..Look at Monte's stats vs. Wash, Oregon, Ole Miss and G-Tech..That's why he got canned at USC..Just think, Kiffin/Dooley will be heading up the defense/offense at Dallas getting Jason Garrett and company fired after next year. I can't get away from these people.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SevenT:

Can't wait until Saturday........you must lead a pretty boring life

Just Saying

I can't wait for you to DAGTH!

jUsT sayin'

allvol8 writes:

My apologies to Sir Spanky... I thought I was responding to 7 teeth..

ncvol17 writes:

Scary that the word is we still have issues tackling IMO....may not have just been the scheme LY, may truly be the players

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to ncvol17:

Scary that the word is we still have issues tackling IMO....may not have just been the scheme LY, may truly be the players

Absolutely..No scheme will work in CFB if you are not fundamentally sound..Some of these guys got away with sloppy technique when they were bigger and faster than their average opponent..However, when you are facing other equally talented athletes the best technique usually wins.

tennlions writes:

in response to Teresa:

He was available to the media this week because I heard a good interview with him by Jimmy Hyams. I can see why players like him.

He said on fumbles, he makes them run until he's not mad anymore. It was pretty funny.

Definite +1 Coach Gillespie.

tennlions writes:

in response to ncvol17:

Scary that the word is we still have issues tackling IMO....may not have just been the scheme LY, may truly be the players

Its not so much the scheme as the level of accountability. The previous regime would watch the missed tackling, get upset about it an then do nothing except send those guys right back out there.

therightstuff writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Absolutely..No scheme will work in CFB if you are not fundamentally sound..Some of these guys got away with sloppy technique when they were bigger and faster than their average opponent..However, when you are facing other equally talented athletes the best technique usually wins.

Agree. High school coaches allow the "stars" to just go and do what they do.....their natural ability wins over lesser athletes in high school and they don't value the fundamentals. High school coaches who don't coach fundamentals are doing a disservice for the players.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to SevenT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

D-Bag I had to google The carousel to find out what it is. Not surprised you would know about it

VolsFanInAfghanistan writes:

All I want is a better showing this season with some quality wins and the stands packed again to show some Tennessee Volunteer pride!! Lets get Neyland stadium back to one of the places you fear to come play against us in football. I believe its coming for sure. GBO VFL

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