First thoughts on Tennessee: been there, done that.

David Paschall has a smart piece this morning on the bumpy ride involved in changing to a 3-4 defensive scheme in the SEC.  You can say there’s a pattern:

Alabama struggled to stop opponents in 2007, when Nick Saban arrived with defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Georgia’s 2010 season was anything but smooth under new coordinator Todd Grantham, and Tennessee’s defense is experiencing inconsistencies this year under Sal Sunseri, who spent the past three seasons as Alabama’s linebackers coach.

Typically, there are two problems.  One, there are the inevitable personnel issues, particularly in the front seven, that crop up as the 4-3 requires different body types and different position responsibilities than the 3-4 does.  Two, there’s a period of adjustment for the players on the field.

“From a coverage standpoint, we are pretty complex, and I think that you’ve got to get some reps in it,” Grantham said of his system. “I think the best thing we’ve done is to maintain our consistency from day one here. As players develop and get that consistency and develop their habits, then they play with more consistency.

“That’s a little bit of why you saw some things early on with us, because we had some players who were kind of like first-year guys.”

It takes time.

“We are glad that [first] season is behind us,” Bulldogs redshirt junior outside linebacker Chase Vasser said. “Last year, we made a big deal about not just knowing your own role but the roles of everyone around you. We started to play faster, and now I know I am trying to get even more detailed and working on little things like my stance, get off, drop step and where I shoot my hands.

“It’s the little things now, because I’m not worrying about the whole defense.”

This is why I questioned those who were predicting a major improvement from Tennessee this season.  It’s not that the Vols don’t have some talent on defense, or that Sunseri didn’t learn enough about how to implement a 3-4 scheme under Saban.  It’s just that Alabama and Georgia both demonstrated that it’s not realistic to expect a top ten defense in the first year of that kind of transition.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

8 responses to “First thoughts on Tennessee: been there, done that.

  1. “Realistic” and Tennessee-football fan are not terms that I see going together at any time in the near future.


  2. joyridingdog

    True, an oxymoron at that.


  3. joyridingdog

    Also there’s the “Lulu and Junior” factor.


  4. One thing going for UGA’s team and that means a lot is Grantham.


  5. Cojones

    OK, so we are ahead of their D progression and should take advantage of what they shouldn’t know yet. Right? I hope that some fans can see the take-home lesson here. It applies to O as well as D; that our coaches have yet to put all their knowledge on the field. We should fight for them when they are disrespected (as well as the players) because we have a great bunch of people out there representing and they deserve our patience and support every year. It’s a movable feast , folks. If there is any fan who hasn’t learned that by now, he should just mumble “Duuuh” and move on to where someone can appreciate their self-proclaimed expertise. It ain’t needed here and many with patience have known that for a couple of years. It is boring.

    This is the first year in the last 7 years when I don’t remember injuries chaotically hurting our ability to keep the best players on the field and causing the coaches to have makeshift plans for fielding a complete team. This has been at the root of our problems. Player self-discipline is responsible for us being in the situation that just transpired, keeping our best from hitting the field. We seem to have an open highway now and, except for an occasional fixable flat tire, be able to begin the trip we have waited for for so long. Patience is the name of the fan’s game and is what we must do to travel along with the team. Don’t blame the Dawgs for the first wreck, if it occurs. Carry a snakebite kit and keep your fingers crossed. We need all of it for this trip .


  6. joyridingdog

    Their D progression is in that, “Rebuilding” mode. Nothing to worry about.