John Adams: Maximizing improvement: Follow 8 'Don'ts of Sal Sunseri'

Adam Brimer/News Sentinel
Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri looks on from the sideline at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 27.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Adam Brimer/News Sentinel Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri looks on from the sideline at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 27.

Much of Tennessee’s football tradition goes back to Gen. Robert Neyland, one of the game’s greatest coaches.

And you can’t mention Neyland without bringing up his seven “Game Maxims,” which, based on UT’s recent seasons, are easier remembered than executed.

The Vols wouldn’t have lost seven games in each of the past three seasons if they had followed Neyland’s seven game maxims, which provide an outline for winning football.

One reads: “The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.”

Another: “Protect our kicker, our QB, our lead and our ballgame.”

Simple? You bet. And they’re as valid now as they were when Neyland first presented them.

But as the Vols open preseason practice this week, they shouldn’t limit themselves to the General’s maxims in their pursuit of improvement.

Another sure way to improve: Adhere to the “Eight Don’ts of Sal Sunseri.”

Like the General, Sunseri needs no introduction to UT fans.

In 2012, his one and only season as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator, his unit produced staggering statistics that — in the best of all Big Orange Worlds — will never be surpassed.

It was one failed chase scene after another. In fact, my dog had a better chance of catching a car than UT’s secondary did of overhauling an opponent from behind. And he’s 13 years old.

The cumulative damages under Sunseri: 471.3 yards allowed per game, 43 scores on 47 penetrations inside the UT red zone, and 35.7 points given up per game.

Remembering such statistics is the best way to avoid them.

Hence, the “Eight Don’ts of Sal Sunseri:”

1. Don’t allow Florida’s fullback to average better than 25 yards every time he touches the ball.

Last season, Trey Burton had three carries for 91 yards and two catches for 38 yards.

2. Don’t give up more than four touchdowns to Georgia’s tailbacks.

Last season, Todd Gurley scored three and Keith Marshall had two.

3. Don’t allow Alabama’s best receiver to gain more than 161 yards.

Last season, Amari Cooper had seven catches for 162 yards.

4. Don’t let more than one South Carolina receiver to gain more than 100 yards.

Last season, Justin Cunningham had 108 yards and Bruce Ellington had 101.

5. Don’t allow a Sun Belt Conference opponent to gain more than 720 yards in Neyland Stadium.

Last season, Troy had 721 yards.

6. Don’t allow a Missouri running back to almost get his per-game rushing average on one play.

Last season, Kendial Lawrence had a 77-yard run against the Vols. That was only eight yards less than his per-game average.

7. Don’t let a pedestrian Kentucky quarterback complete more than 28 passes.

Although the Vols beat the Wildcats by 20 points last season, they still gave up 29 completions to Jalen Whitlow.

8. Don’t allow Vanderbilt’s best player to average 20 yards per play.

Last season, wide receiver Jordan Matthews gained 162 yards on seven pass receptions and one run.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 50

rockypop writes:

What a stretch. Maybe Adams can write, but he sure needs someone to give him ideas.

Prostar writes:

It would be darn near impossible to beat last years stats. I have too much faith in this coaching staff to believe they would ever allow another fiasco like that. We had some very winnable games last year but adjustments were never made and for lack of competent coaching games were lost.

volguy#211935 writes:

It's Troy, no longer Troy State, and hasn't been for a few years now.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

I see adams still don't know chit about reporting...nothing changes nothing changes

madmax22 writes:

I bet that took Adams all of 2 minutes to write.

tovolny writes:

John knows how to cheer up a crowd, huh?

One thing for sure. The UT coaches the last three years did about 10 times better at their jobs than John did at his. I thought about writing the 10 DON'TS of a sportswriter...but since most of them began with "don't be like John Adams and...etc...etc"...I just decided the heck with it. We all know why the wind blows so hard through the streets of knoxville...it is because John Adams sucks.

CoverOrange writes:

John must have eyes in the back of his head, cuz no one is better at hindsight than he.

lahvolman2 writes:

Am I the only person on here who's noticed Dave Hart's hair looks just like Herman Munster????

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to lahvolman2:

Am I the only person on here who's noticed Dave Hart's hair looks just like Herman Munster????

Nope, I thought the same thing.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to lahvolman2:

Am I the only person on here who's noticed Dave Hart's hair looks just like Herman Munster????

I've always thought that with bolts on the side of his neck he could pass for Boris Karloff as 'Frankenstein's Monster'.

flatrock writes:

John, who really hired Sal Sunseri?

LiveFaith writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

John must have eyes in the back of his head, cuz no one is better at hindsight than he.

Probably so, but the best thing about it is that he can look his lovers in the eyes!

antonio14313 writes:

Now THAT'S the John Adams we all know and _______...

go vols.

t

antonio14313 writes:

in response to madmax22:

I bet that took Adams all of 2 minutes to write.

This "article" sounds more like a troll's post than something from a professional writer.

go vols.

t

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I always read JA. I don't know why but I do. Must be SOMEthing there lol.

ONLY KNS would even bring up Sunseri a year later.

I like the conspiracy theory that Sunseri was sent in to dismantle UT's fledgling program. Nip it in the bud. End it right here and now. FILE 13. etc. and etc. We pretty much all saw a weak defense even beating NC St. However our mostly whipping them otherwise gave us a false sense of hope. As seemingly pointed out the lack of adjustments or even improvement can only be laid at the feet of the coaching staff. PLUS Sunseri just quit on us and UT it seemed.

Heck now JA's got me looking back too!!! That's your purpose JA? Always to look "Back to Future". Hmmm Actually might work. Does anyone have one of those silver cars with the side doors?

Go get 'em Butch and this year's defense. Here's to thinking we won't average more than 300 yards allowed per game this year. That's maybe a big hope looking at our schedule and the high powered offenses we play.

NEVERTHELESS Go Vols Go DEFENSE!

atnvol#283282 writes:

What is the point of dredging up the past John? I believe Sal Sunseri's daughter still attends UT? I am sure both she and her father had hopes of different results. Let it go...we have alot to look forward to now so let us not focus on the past. In spite of Sunseri's failures as a DC....he still is a human being and does not need to be held up for your public ridicule....shameless.

cltvol writes:

in response to atnvol#283282:

What is the point of dredging up the past John? I believe Sal Sunseri's daughter still attends UT? I am sure both she and her father had hopes of different results. Let it go...we have alot to look forward to now so let us not focus on the past. In spite of Sunseri's failures as a DC....he still is a human being and does not need to be held up for your public ridicule....shameless.

you are right,,I lean your way,, but on the other hand he got paid big public money both to stay and to go, so its the public figure thing.

Olddogsrule writes:

didn't read it .. byline tells me all i need to know

same ol', same ol' $#1^ from johnnyboy

FIRE JOHN ADAMS

ctwins writes:

Coach Sals biggest mistake was thinking he could play Alabama defense with 10uhc players, too small and too slow for that result. Thanks for the monthly supplement check though......

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

I was in the process of writing Adams to reiterate to him a few of the above comments you fellows made ( to which I agreed, BTW ) but guess what?

You could pull up his email address and the text subject.......but from that point on, you couldn't write anything. Something tells me he's received so many emails pointing out the obvious to him that he's blocked the messages.

You're right, why bring up the stuff about Sunseri and the past. Sort of like the trolls dragging the Kiffin and Dooley stuff along all the time. Wait............perhaps the trolls and Adams might be related? Is a possibility !

PHAT_VOL writes:

OLE Curley I mean Sal. Never to be forgotten. He must be mortafied. I wonder where he is now. Out looking for two new friends to take Larry and Moes place.
GO VOLS!!!

aspenvol2 writes:

John Adams ... the Sal Sunseri of journalism. Works for free, or would have been fired years ago.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Just 8?

brokendownoldvol writes:

Look on the bright side. If we had had anyone but Sunseri last yr. even a Pop Warner coach as defensive coordinator with the offense TN had Dooley would still be here. Sunseri may end up the best thing to ever happen to TN football. We have wonderful coaches now.

bigorangebolt writes:

I hope John Adams works for free! Who would pay such am idiot? If he had a brain, he would be dangerous! Go Big Orange!
I can wait until t see the players run though the Big T!

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

I think we can stop lamenting our defensive performance was last year. Time to move on.

40cap writes:

I believe no. 1 should be- don't allow a team to convert 3rd & goal from the 23.

GreerVol22 writes:

no wonder the younger guys at KNS are getting all the awards...

madrigal writes:

Best thing to do would be to forget Sunseri entirely. John Adams can't come up with anything new so must resort to picking at scabs. KNS needs to kick him upstairs somewhere so we don't have to read any more of his drivel.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to CantStandCantStandSaban:

I think we can stop lamenting our defensive performance was last year. Time to move on.

Agree... but you know JA won't let us forget. He didn't write a single football article last year without mentioning the loss to KY. I can't imagine he'll write any football article this season without mentioning the Sal Sunseri disaster of last season.

JA likes to kick, headbutt, and elbow people when they're down.

volprof80 writes:

I clicked on this because I thought it might provide insightful views as to what Tennessee needs to do defensively; instead, it was just a laundry list of what went wrong last season. What a disappointment.

MetroplexMojo writes:

Mojo's inspirational quote of the day....

"People who live in the past generally are afraid to compete in the present"

murrayvol writes:

in response to lahvolman2:

Am I the only person on here who's noticed Dave Hart's hair looks just like Herman Munster????

Evidently not.

murrayvol writes:

in response to brokendownoldvol:

Look on the bright side. If we had had anyone but Sunseri last yr. even a Pop Warner coach as defensive coordinator with the offense TN had Dooley would still be here. Sunseri may end up the best thing to ever happen to TN football. We have wonderful coaches now.

Painful to admit but you're probably right.

murrayvol writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I always read JA. I don't know why but I do. Must be SOMEthing there lol.

ONLY KNS would even bring up Sunseri a year later.

I like the conspiracy theory that Sunseri was sent in to dismantle UT's fledgling program. Nip it in the bud. End it right here and now. FILE 13. etc. and etc. We pretty much all saw a weak defense even beating NC St. However our mostly whipping them otherwise gave us a false sense of hope. As seemingly pointed out the lack of adjustments or even improvement can only be laid at the feet of the coaching staff. PLUS Sunseri just quit on us and UT it seemed.

Heck now JA's got me looking back too!!! That's your purpose JA? Always to look "Back to Future". Hmmm Actually might work. Does anyone have one of those silver cars with the side doors?

Go get 'em Butch and this year's defense. Here's to thinking we won't average more than 300 yards allowed per game this year. That's maybe a big hope looking at our schedule and the high powered offenses we play.

NEVERTHELESS Go Vols Go DEFENSE!

Don't beat yourself up. He's a HOF sportswriter.

As for Sunseri, he's sorta like the StaPuff Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters. When you least expect it, he just pops into your mind.

There are several Deloreans still out there. Those side doors are called gull-wings. GBO

murrayvol writes:

in response to PHAT_VOL:

OLE Curley I mean Sal. Never to be forgotten. He must be mortafied. I wonder where he is now. Out looking for two new friends to take Larry and Moes place.
GO VOLS!!!

FSU Linebackers coach. He'll do well. DC was a bridge too far.

Razor784 writes:

in response to lahvolman2:

Am I the only person on here who's noticed Dave Hart's hair looks just like Herman Munster????

It's the best hair that money can buy.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

Man, those were some atrocious numbers. Nothing to embrace or even tell our kids or grand kids about. Time for the trend to go upward.

tennrich1 writes:

Now granted we were and still are woefully slow on defense...especially in the secondary...but that defense was the perfect storm...trying to install a whole different look on defense with a rookie DC and for good measure throw in some key injuries along with a lame duck head coach and questionable talent in several spots and wallah...the perfect storm for the worst defense in UT history(statically speaking)...oh...and a murderers row schedule...lets be patient because we may be in for a rough ride again...However, I just don't see the defense being anywhere close to how bad it was last year...

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Don't beat yourself up. He's a HOF sportswriter.

As for Sunseri, he's sorta like the StaPuff Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters. When you least expect it, he just pops into your mind.

There are several Deloreans still out there. Those side doors are called gull-wings. GBO

I confess to not knowing the Delorean's doors were called "gull-wings. Makes sense though. I DID know they were Deloreans but I couldn't think of it when posting.
I can't say that Sunseri ever "pops into" my mind. If that's the case for you I'm truly sorry!
Nothing against Sunseri myself. He was put into a near impossible situation to make a pro defense out of mostly freshmen and sophs. Someone was unwilling to bend on that one and we'll probably never know who for certain.

hehe As for JA I usually find his articles interesting and thought provoking. I won't say what thoughts are provoked but he does get posters.

Vol57 writes:

in response to LiveFaith:

Probably so, but the best thing about it is that he can look his lovers in the eyes!

Funny !!

murrayvol writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I confess to not knowing the Delorean's doors were called "gull-wings. Makes sense though. I DID know they were Deloreans but I couldn't think of it when posting.
I can't say that Sunseri ever "pops into" my mind. If that's the case for you I'm truly sorry!
Nothing against Sunseri myself. He was put into a near impossible situation to make a pro defense out of mostly freshmen and sophs. Someone was unwilling to bend on that one and we'll probably never know who for certain.

hehe As for JA I usually find his articles interesting and thought provoking. I won't say what thoughts are provoked but he does get posters.

It's hard for me to not think about arguably the worst season long defensive debacle in Volunteer football history. Hats off to you if you've figured out a way.

By season's end I was watching the defense with averted vision.

Lizardgrad89 writes:

in response to murrayvol:

It's hard for me to not think about arguably the worst season long defensive debacle in Volunteer football history. Hats off to you if you've figured out a way.

By season's end I was watching the defense with averted vision.

The defense has nowhere to go but up, but the offense, having lost every experienced pass catcher from what was far and away the strength of the team, has nowhere to go but down.

Still, keep recruiting good players, and the future will be better.

John_10065 writes:

Last time I saw a POS baiting headline like this it was on MSNBC.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to murrayvol:

It's hard for me to not think about arguably the worst season long defensive debacle in Volunteer football history. Hats off to you if you've figured out a way.

By season's end I was watching the defense with averted vision.

Simple really. I just move on to basketball.

asleep#212036 writes:

Please don't shoot the messenger, but without the miserable failure of Sunseri's defense last year, we probably would have won 9 or more games. Dooley would likely have gotten a raise, an extension, or both, and we would have been stuck with him trying to rebuild with this year's team and a fat multi-year contract too expensive to buy out.. And when did DD EVER have a recruiting class like the one Butch is potentially putting together? As much as it pained me to watch, and as much grief as I had to endure (I live in Alabama...), the only silver lining was that DD is gone and we can finally, maybe, move on from the last few sad Fulmer years. Kiffin and Dooley set our program back a decade and if we're lucky, Butch will have us competitive by 2015 and in contention a couple of years from that. I don't know about you but I'm about tired of losing. However, when you hire losers for coaches (Kiffin and Dooley had never won anywhere before) what did we expect? In the modern SEC, if you want a winner you don't mold one, you go out and hire one. Hopefully that's what Hart has done, time will tell. Go Vols!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Now granted we were and still are woefully slow on defense...especially in the secondary...but that defense was the perfect storm...trying to install a whole different look on defense with a rookie DC and for good measure throw in some key injuries along with a lame duck head coach and questionable talent in several spots and wallah...the perfect storm for the worst defense in UT history(statically speaking)...oh...and a murderers row schedule...lets be patient because we may be in for a rough ride again...However, I just don't see the defense being anywhere close to how bad it was last year...

I'm with you; while talent issues will only be solved by better players and experience, there is a whole lot more that goes into team performance besides individual talent. It was, IMHO, mostly in those "no-talent-required" phases of the game--blocking and tackling, lining up right, etc.--that the Vols were the worst last year. Then of course there are all the injury and morale issues you raise. If the Vols make significant progress in the areas mentioned, the available talent might look a little better than it did last year, and that could make a LOT of difference in the final record.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to murrayvol:

It's hard for me to not think about arguably the worst season long defensive debacle in Volunteer football history. Hats off to you if you've figured out a way.

By season's end I was watching the defense with averted vision.

No point in remaining depressed about the past, Murray! I look at last year as a scary cautionary tale from the past. When I look at last year, I see a lot of mistakes being repeated. The same little things were tripping them up all the time--bad initial reaction; bad angles in pursuit; missed tackles; silly penalties; etc. Those aren't talent issues, they are discipline issues or leadership issues or preparation issues, all areas in which Jones and staff can be expected to improve the team. This year's Vols will be much more engaging to the fans because while they may not win a lot of games, I don't think we will have the feeling that they didn't do all they could with what they had. That is all a fan can expect out of a coach, except of course that the talent side is also under the coach's eventual control through recruiting. If the past still depresses you, just look at it as a bad dream; perhaps tough to go through at the time, but ultimately nothing to dim your day.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to asleep#212036:

Please don't shoot the messenger, but without the miserable failure of Sunseri's defense last year, we probably would have won 9 or more games. Dooley would likely have gotten a raise, an extension, or both, and we would have been stuck with him trying to rebuild with this year's team and a fat multi-year contract too expensive to buy out.. And when did DD EVER have a recruiting class like the one Butch is potentially putting together? As much as it pained me to watch, and as much grief as I had to endure (I live in Alabama...), the only silver lining was that DD is gone and we can finally, maybe, move on from the last few sad Fulmer years. Kiffin and Dooley set our program back a decade and if we're lucky, Butch will have us competitive by 2015 and in contention a couple of years from that. I don't know about you but I'm about tired of losing. However, when you hire losers for coaches (Kiffin and Dooley had never won anywhere before) what did we expect? In the modern SEC, if you want a winner you don't mold one, you go out and hire one. Hopefully that's what Hart has done, time will tell. Go Vols!!!

I think you have captured the feelings of most fans looking at the recent past. In the spirit of the advice I offered murrayvol, think of last year as a painful medical procedure that ensures eventual recovery. The "tumors" and "non-functioning organs" have been removed. The patient may remain weak for a short period, but he now has a chance to regain his health, and ultimately his strength.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Lizardgrad89:

The defense has nowhere to go but up, but the offense, having lost every experienced pass catcher from what was far and away the strength of the team, has nowhere to go but down.

Still, keep recruiting good players, and the future will be better.

Lost a pretty good pass thrower as well.....even though he was a half bubble off plumb.

Recruiting quality athletes is a good start and BJ seems to have a knack for that.

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