Pass defense. Talent, coaching or both?

#1

Allvols1996

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#1
I spent some time looking through our roster and the current players who are available in our secondary. The problems in this group are obvious to anyone watching. The Vols rank 130 out of 131 teams in pass defense, giving up 303 yards passing per game.

The big question is to what degree does UT’s secondary problem fall on the coaches versus the players? It’s hard to know for sure, but looking through the recruiting profiles of those who signed out of high school, as well as the transfers, they should be getting better performance than the stats portray.

Another question is why other players aren’t seeing the field. Andre Turrentine seemed like a name that was sure to see action. He played a bit early in the year, but has seen little more than sparse mop up duty since. Dee Williams has shown his worth as a shifty and sure-handed punt returner, immediately elevating that position. At CB it’s been a completely different story. Williams has been virtually non existent even in mop up duty.

The bottom line is while there is no clear superstar at DB, the roster has a number of highly recruited and ranked players, that with proper development, should provide decent play in the secondary. Still, this unit performs poorly in all areas, from coverage to tackling.

There is no question the staff needs to upgrade the talent, but what we are seeing goes far beyond skill. These players are poorly coached and lost in this defensive system.

Recruiting rankings are never a guarantee, but teams can typically count on a fair percentage of players living up to their star ranking. With proper coaching and development you’ll have the occasional player who exceeds their ranking, and UT has certainly had its share of those over the years. With this roster, you’d have to believe that there are 6-8 players who were complete busts and somehow, magically, all ended up on the same roster. I’m not buying it.

In the final evaluation, Heupel’s offense doesn’t need a top 20 defense to succeed. I don’t think anyone expected that from this staff by year two. Unfortunately, things appear to be heading in the wrong direction on that side of the ball, and UT will be lucky to finish in the top 100 in total defense.

I’d say a defense anywhere in the top 60 would provide enough support to keep the Vols consistently ahead of the sticks against 90% of the league. With the resources at UT that is an easily obtainable goal.

Just a few seasons ago we believed that averaging 35 points per game was out of reach. With an innovative system and quality development, the Vols shattered that ceiling becoming the most potent offense in the nation. It seems unreasonable that the offensive roster could have so many players exceed their ceiling while the defense has had so few.

Conclusion: There are enough pieces in the secondary to perform better than what the stats reveal. Heupel needs to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball, and find a coach that can better evaluate talent, develop the roster, and teach the game.
 
#4

HuntlandVolinColo

Rocky Top High Colorado
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#4
I spent some time looking through our roster and the current players who are available in our secondary. The problems in this group are obvious to anyone watching. The Vols rank 130 out of 131 teams in pass defense, giving up 303 yards passing per game.

The big question is to what degree does UT’s secondary problem fall on the coaches versus the players? It’s hard to know for sure, but looking through the recruiting profiles of those who signed out of high school, as well as the transfers, they should be getting better performance than the stats portray.

Another question is why other players aren’t seeing the field. Andre Turrentine seemed like a name that was sure to see action. He played a bit early in the year, but has seen little more than sparse mop up duty since. Dee Williams has shown his worth as a shifty and sure-handed punt returner, immediately elevating that position. At CB it’s been a completely different story. Williams has been virtually non existent even in mop up duty.

The bottom line is while there is no clear superstar at DB, the roster has a number of highly recruited and ranked players, that with proper development, should provide decent play in the secondary. Still, this unit performs poorly in all areas, from coverage to tackling.

There is no question the staff needs to upgrade the talent, but what we are seeing goes far beyond skill. These players are poorly coached and lost in this defensive system.

Recruiting rankings are never a guarantee, but teams can typically count on a fair percentage of players living up to their star ranking. With proper coaching and development you’ll have the occasional player who exceeds their ranking, and UT has certainly had its share of those over the years. With this roster, you’d have to believe that there are 6-8 players who were complete busts and somehow, magically, all ended up on the same roster. I’m not buying it.

In the final evaluation, Heupel’s offense doesn’t need a top 20 defense to succeed. I don’t think anyone expected that from this staff by year two. Unfortunately, things appear to be heading in the wrong direction on that side of the ball, and UT will be lucky to finish in the top 100 in total defense.

I’d say a defense anywhere in the top 60 would provide enough support to keep the Vols consistently ahead of the sticks against 90% of the league. With the resources at UT that is an easily obtainable goal.

Just a few seasons ago we believed that averaging 35 points per game was out of reach. With an innovative system and quality development, the Vols shattered that ceiling becoming the most potent offense in the nation. It seems unreasonable that the offensive roster could have so many players exceed their ceiling while the defense has had so few.

Conclusion: There are enough pieces in the secondary to perform better than what the stats reveal. Heupel needs to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball, and find a coach that can better evaluate talent, develop the roster, and teach the game.

This is definitely an all of the above answer: talent, development, coaching.

Need recruits, transfer portal gems and a Sayonara Party for Martinez.
 
#5

HuntlandVolinColo

Rocky Top High Colorado
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#5
Our entire secondary sucks. They are slow, can't tackle, and can't cover. Their coaching is subpar and has been. Martinez is below average and our defensive coordinator is lost in space. The SC loss was the greatest embarrassment that UT has ever experienced. Need to replace both of these coaches.
Yeah, but we lead the Nation in trash talk, even Miami CBs can't hang with us on that one!
 
#10

Flipdaddy

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#10
It’s very concerning obviously because I don’t care how bad the players are, at this level you don’t give up that many points to a team that scored 6 points against Florida. We didn’t adjust at all. I realize that USC had the game of a lifetime but that’s no excuse. I’m not overly concerned unless Heupel ever lets that happen again. Another thing that kills us offensively….the hurry up to the LOS on 2nd and 5 to run the ball up the middle was a severely wasted down. We did that about three times and they were drive killers.
 
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#14

Allvols1996

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#14
Most of the players were 3 star recruits and are average at best.

Safeties are slow.

Really miss a lock down corner like we had last year with A. Taylor.
They had two NFL picks in the secondary last year, but overall, still stunk. Picked up a number of transfers going into this year and all have either not played or not played well. Turnage, Turrentine, McCollough. Walker, Cameron Miller are all ranked 4 star by at least one service. In addition, they have several upper classman like Hadden, Flowers, McDonald and Slaughter, who seemed ready to blossom. Williams (#3 ranked juco corner) can’t even get in field on defense. Far from a bare cupboard.
 
#15
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#15
I spent some time looking through our roster and the current players who are available in our secondary. The problems in this group are obvious to anyone watching. The Vols rank 130 out of 131 teams in pass defense, giving up 303 yards passing per game.

The big question is to what degree does UT’s secondary problem fall on the coaches versus the players? It’s hard to know for sure, but looking through the recruiting profiles of those who signed out of high school, as well as the transfers, they should be getting better performance than the stats portray.

Another question is why other players aren’t seeing the field. Andre Turrentine seemed like a name that was sure to see action. He played a bit early in the year, but has seen little more than sparse mop up duty since. Dee Williams has shown his worth as a shifty and sure-handed punt returner, immediately elevating that position. At CB it’s been a completely different story. Williams has been virtually non existent even in mop up duty.

The bottom line is while there is no clear superstar at DB, the roster has a number of highly recruited and ranked players, that with proper development, should provide decent play in the secondary. Still, this unit performs poorly in all areas, from coverage to tackling.

There is no question the staff needs to upgrade the talent, but what we are seeing goes far beyond skill. These players are poorly coached and lost in this defensive system.

Recruiting rankings are never a guarantee, but teams can typically count on a fair percentage of players living up to their star ranking. With proper coaching and development you’ll have the occasional player who exceeds their ranking, and UT has certainly had its share of those over the years. With this roster, you’d have to believe that there are 6-8 players who were complete busts and somehow, magically, all ended up on the same roster. I’m not buying it.

In the final evaluation, Heupel’s offense doesn’t need a top 20 defense to succeed. I don’t think anyone expected that from this staff by year two. Unfortunately, things appear to be heading in the wrong direction on that side of the ball, and UT will be lucky to finish in the top 100 in total defense.

I’d say a defense anywhere in the top 60 would provide enough support to keep the Vols consistently ahead of the sticks against 90% of the league. With the resources at UT that is an easily obtainable goal.

Just a few seasons ago we believed that averaging 35 points per game was out of reach. With an innovative system and quality development, the Vols shattered that ceiling becoming the most potent offense in the nation. It seems unreasonable that the offensive roster could have so many players exceed their ceiling while the defense has had so few.

Conclusion: There are enough pieces in the secondary to perform better than what the stats reveal. Heupel needs to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball, and find a coach that can better evaluate talent, develop the roster, and teach the game.
I think those are good points. I never played football and only became a fan when I started going to UT as a student in 2003, so take anything I say about technique with a grain of salt. I have watched a ton of football in that time, and maybe it’s I’m biased as a fan am wrong, but it seems to me we fail to tackle a lot of times even when we are near the opposing athlete who has the ball. Like okay even if our guys are not fast enough that they can play tight man coverage consistently if they do get close enough where some contact is made with the ball carrier it would be cool to see them bring them down more. Maybe I just focus on the bad plays more and it’s bias on my part, like I said, grain of salt.
 
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#17
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#17
BUT, regarding that 130 ranking...

going into the USCe game our defense was also (IIRC) ranked 22nd in red zone defense. The premise of our defensive strategy is to provide our offense with more possessions than the opponent, and to limit the opponent's scoring.

On third and long, or once we have a lead, the defense seeks to generate turnovers by applying pressure on the passer. The defensive secondary's goals are to 1) keep the receiver/ball in front of you to prevent a home run, and 2) to ball hawk on their blitz routes.

With no pass pressure against Rattler (aided by his career day for accuracy, and maybe an inordinate deficit of holding calls) the still developing technique of our down-the-depth-chart-in-August DBs was exploited. This was also our first game this season creating zero turnovers. You can only credit South Carolina for achieving that.

It usually takes several years to develop an SEC-quality defensive back. Young college DBs who find early success almost always do so on make-up speed, not their technique. Even back when we were recruiting 4- and 5-star DBs routinely, we seldom saw them starting before their Junior year, unless injuries required it.

My response to the OP's question would be to add "...or the defensive pass rushers, or the D-line coaches?" The defense is a unit, and the unit fails when any aspect of it is unsuccessful.
 
#18

HalfullVol

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#18
Our entire secondary sucks. They are slow, can't tackle, and can't cover. Their coaching is subpar and has been. Martinez is below average and our defensive coordinator is lost in space. The SC loss was the greatest embarrassment that UT has ever experienced. Need to replace both of these coaches.
Now that UT has a proven winner in Coach Hype, they might be able to attract better defensive assistants/coaches as the risk isn’t as great.
 
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#19

Tarkus

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#19
I have heard several former players and media members say we are talent deficient in the defensive secondary. I don't doubt them for a minute on that but I don't think we have the worst secondary talent in the country and that is how they are performing. That tells me there is a deficiency in coaching. Our personnel can't be 130th in athletic ability.
 
#20
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#20
A new DC one that motivates them and gets them ready to play come Saturday no matter who they play. Our front 7 is fine and it comes down to the secondary. That is why I would go after Will Muschamp he is a guy that can coach DB and call plays and he can also recruit really well where we are right now he would be the perfect fit for us.
 
#21

VolFreakJosh

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#21
A new DC one that motivates them and gets them ready to play come Saturday no matter who they play. Our front 7 is fine and it comes down to the secondary. That is why I would go after Will Muschamp he is a guy that can coach DB and call plays and he can also recruit really well where we are right now he would be the perfect fit for us.
Will Muschamp and Heupel would not get along
 
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#22

hog88

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#22
A new DC one that motivates them and gets them ready to play come Saturday no matter who they play. Our front 7 is fine and it comes down to the secondary. That is why I would go after Will Muschamp he is a guy that can coach DB and call plays and he can also recruit really well where we are right now he would be the perfect fit for us.
Our front 7 are not fine but Garner has them playing above their talent level. We need better personnel all across the defense but we need a competent secondary coach and DC also.
 
#23
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#23
I spent some time looking through our roster and the current players who are available in our secondary. The problems in this group are obvious to anyone watching. The Vols rank 130 out of 131 teams in pass defense, giving up 303 yards passing per game.

The big question is to what degree does UT’s secondary problem fall on the coaches versus the players? It’s hard to know for sure, but looking through the recruiting profiles of those who signed out of high school, as well as the transfers, they should be getting better performance than the stats portray.

Another question is why other players aren’t seeing the field. Andre Turrentine seemed like a name that was sure to see action. He played a bit early in the year, but has seen little more than sparse mop up duty since. Dee Williams has shown his worth as a shifty and sure-handed punt returner, immediately elevating that position. At CB it’s been a completely different story. Williams has been virtually non existent even in mop up duty.

The bottom line is while there is no clear superstar at DB, the roster has a number of highly recruited and ranked players, that with proper development, should provide decent play in the secondary. Still, this unit performs poorly in all areas, from coverage to tackling.

There is no question the staff needs to upgrade the talent, but what we are seeing goes far beyond skill. These players are poorly coached and lost in this defensive system.

Recruiting rankings are never a guarantee, but teams can typically count on a fair percentage of players living up to their star ranking. With proper coaching and development you’ll have the occasional player who exceeds their ranking, and UT has certainly had its share of those over the years. With this roster, you’d have to believe that there are 6-8 players who were complete busts and somehow, magically, all ended up on the same roster. I’m not buying it.

In the final evaluation, Heupel’s offense doesn’t need a top 20 defense to succeed. I don’t think anyone expected that from this staff by year two. Unfortunately, things appear to be heading in the wrong direction on that side of the ball, and UT will be lucky to finish in the top 100 in total defense.

I’d say a defense anywhere in the top 60 would provide enough support to keep the Vols consistently ahead of the sticks against 90% of the league. With the resources at UT that is an easily obtainable goal.

Just a few seasons ago we believed that averaging 35 points per game was out of reach. With an innovative system and quality development, the Vols shattered that ceiling becoming the most potent offense in the nation. It seems unreasonable that the offensive roster could have so many players exceed their ceiling while the defense has had so few.

Conclusion: There are enough pieces in the secondary to perform better than what the stats reveal. Heupel needs to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball, and find a coach that can better evaluate talent, develop the roster, and teach the game.
Look at our recruiting class especially the position and numbers we have committed. That's the answer. On top of that, I'll be stunned if we don't bring in 2-3 DBs from the portal to go along with all those HS kids. We have nothing in the secondary. One of the worst I've seen at UT.
 

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