John Adams: UT defense puts past passing behind it

John Adams
Tennessee defensive lineman Daniel McCullers (98) takes down South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw (14) during the second half at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Tennessee defensive lineman Daniel McCullers (98) takes down South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw (14) during the second half at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

When Connor Shaw hooked up with Damiere Byrd for a 76-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter, he probably thought the party was just getting started Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

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Comments » 7

Tao_of_Tennessee writes:

To lose Maggitt and to turn around the defense like that is phenomenal. Plus to not have the drive stretching playmakers from last year (Patterson, Hunter, Bray) really impresses me as far as coaching.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Tao_of_Tennessee:

To lose Maggitt and to turn around the defense like that is phenomenal. Plus to not have the drive stretching playmakers from last year (Patterson, Hunter, Bray) really impresses me as far as coaching.

Yep, it's clear there is a whole new attitude on the defense this year, all the more remarkable since most of them are the same guys. The new staff seems to have convinced the players that they care about them, believe in them, and know how to teach them. Just shows what people can do when they have leadership they can trust.

asleep#212036 writes:

Derek Dooley had his nose so far up Saban that he bought Sal Sunseri hook, line, and sinker. The man might be a great linebacker coach but as a coordinator, I'm not sure we've seen worse in the SEC in fifty years. Jancik (sp?) brings an attitude to the defense but more than that, he brings preparation AND halftime adjustments, something you would have to go back pre-Chavis to find in Knoxville. And what do you know? We no longer play prevent defense in Knoxville. We held Georgia and SC to season low 3rd down conversion percentages. Stuffed a Spurrier offense in the 4th quarter at crunch time. Getting turnovers in bunches. Lost Maggitt. Lost Couch. Still don't have Saulsberry back. Playing a true freshman at corner. This guy, like Butch, has it going on and that D is getting more confidant every week. They're gonna have to really step it up the next three weeks if we are to see a bowl game. Go Vols!!!

ChadBTindell writes:

Willie Martinez also deserves credit. What I found impressive was even when Shaw had time, he would look...and look...and look...only to find his receivers covered throughout the play. That's difficult to accomplish from a defensive perspective. Go Vols!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ChadBTindell:

Willie Martinez also deserves credit. What I found impressive was even when Shaw had time, he would look...and look...and look...only to find his receivers covered throughout the play. That's difficult to accomplish from a defensive perspective. Go Vols!

Great point. The somewhat improved pass rush has a lot to do with it, but the coverage is miles better than it was last year. The DBs can still have a bust or two and there continues to be a lack of top-end closing speed, but those things seem less damaging all the time. One almost never sees DBs milling around and looking at each other; everybody seems to know where they are supposed to be and they generally get there.

bUTch__please writes:

The defensive scheme got simplified so everyone could understand their responsibilities and play fast. Each of the past few weeks the team has been visibly prepared for the strengths of the opponent. Depth and speed issues have been masked as much as possible by being flexible on personnel and not putting the players out on an island. Players are more sound in the fundamentals of better protecting running lanes against mobile QB's, tackling has improved tremendously and we're getting pressure from a 4 man rush without selling out the farm and exposing the secondary. Notice too that Brewer recently has been playing "spy" on the most mobile QB's and making an impact. Cam Sutton is a stud. An amazing addition to the defensive backfield in finding and developing a Freshman in the course of an SEC campaign like that. Vereen and Sapp have made huge strides as well. What a difference this staff has made in one short year.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to bUTch__please:

The defensive scheme got simplified so everyone could understand their responsibilities and play fast. Each of the past few weeks the team has been visibly prepared for the strengths of the opponent. Depth and speed issues have been masked as much as possible by being flexible on personnel and not putting the players out on an island. Players are more sound in the fundamentals of better protecting running lanes against mobile QB's, tackling has improved tremendously and we're getting pressure from a 4 man rush without selling out the farm and exposing the secondary. Notice too that Brewer recently has been playing "spy" on the most mobile QB's and making an impact. Cam Sutton is a stud. An amazing addition to the defensive backfield in finding and developing a Freshman in the course of an SEC campaign like that. Vereen and Sapp have made huge strides as well. What a difference this staff has made in one short year.

You have pretty much summed up the kinds of changes--physical, strategic, and tactical--that we hoped for from the new staff. It would be hard to say, except for the players you mentioned, that the talent level is dramatically higher than it has been in recent years, but it is clear to me that they are getting a lot more OUT of the talent that they do have.

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