“He’s a Yale guy.”

I know that Booch’s personality and Tennessee’s proclivity for crapping the bed in the fourth quarter makes it easy to question the media’s anointment of the Vols as the SEC East favorites, but replacing John Jancek with Bob Shoop may go down as the conference’s shrewdest hire of the offseason.

The Vols ranked 36th nationally in total defense in 2015 but were middle of the road relative to the SEC. Within the league Tennessee ranked seventh in points allowed, eighth in yards allowed, eighth against the run and 11th against the pass. The Vols forced only 19 turnovers, totaled only 26 sacks and allowed 15 conversions on 21 fourth downs.

“Middle of the road” meaning seventh.  Shoop’s three Vanderbilt defenses finished sixth twice and fifth once in total defense.  (Vandy finished ahead of UT in total defense last season, as well.)

Tennessee’s 2015 defense was more talented than it showed and it won’t surprise me if Shoop has them playing closer to expectations this season.  If you’re a Georgia fan, that’s not good.

37 Comments

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37 responses to ““He’s a Yale guy.”

  1. Bulldog Joe

    Here are some plays that could work…

  2. Tennessee is far and away the favorite to win the East. It’s not even close. We’ll see how Butch handles legitimate expectations for the first time in his career, but with the experienced leaders Tenn has at every level on both sides of the ball, I don’t see how it fails to win the East outside of several serious injuries.

    • David K

      Well, Georgia was far and away the favorite to win the East the past 3 years…

      • Exactly. And now it has a new coach. Tenn isn’t a lock to win the East, but it is it the clear favorite. It still has to go out and do it on the field.

      • Otto

        Exactly, if I were wagering on it, Florida gets my pick, UT has a new DC, UGA a new staff. UF had a healthy mid year enrollment and the McElwain has shown what he can do with a solid 1st year starter at QB. UT hasn’t shown the ability to win early in the season which kind of reminds me of Richt blow a game early then hope for a loss where you can play back in. I can see UT breaking the streak against UF but then dropping a week later to UGA or vice versa. I will be pulling for UT against the Crocs.

    • D.N. Nation

      Not predicting UT to win the East is basically saying that Florida’s November 2015 didn’t exist, and things will be magically immediately better in Athens, so yeah. They’re winning the East.

      That said, they’re at Georgia-going-into-the-2011-season levels of complete inability to win games of importance, outside of their trash field injuring other players. For example: UT plays in College Station this season. They should win. They get Florida at home. They should win. Will they? Am I willing to bet on that? Ehhhh…

  3. BarneyDawg

    He better get it done this year. With what they are losing and what it appears they are bringing in, it is now or never for Butch Briles.

  4. Argondawg

    Bootch’s problem is that for some reason he has not been able to recruit last year and this year like he did before. He was bringing in studs there for a stretch but they are juniors now. If he doesn’t keep his foot on the recruiting gas he will return to form in short order.

    • JCDAWG83

      The bag money has been going to the rape victims.

    • Macallanlover

      He could offer immediate playing time in the beginning while other schools couldn’t, much easier to make marketable promises. He could get a momentum wave to ride this recruiting season but is boxing himself in. He currently has 20 recruits committed for the February class but all but three are three star athletes. They will either have to take a step back, or have to jettison some of the early commits. At this point they aren’t the leader, or contender, for any of the top talent left out there so they have a ways to go. Plus, I have to think Sgt. Carter’s act wears thin to even the young recruits. How long can you really stand to listen to male yell leader?

      • JCDAWG83

        You also have to consider the 16-18 year old male attention span. Booch had a little momentum going for a couple years with the great recruiting classes but he didn’t turn it into any SECCG appearances or really any big game wins to maintain the momentum. Beating our mediocre team last season was pretty much the high point of the UT program for the past three years. High school kids probably look at UT as yesterday’s news now. If he can’t win the East this season, UT will look to high school kids to be a middle of the pack program.

  5. 3rdandGrantham

    As others have mentioned, UT’s recruiting has really tapered off as of late. Unless everyone else is wrong (recruiting services, other programs, etc), UT will be facing quite a talent gap between us and Bama in the near future that no assistant will be able to overcome.

    I too believe this is UT’s last gasp of returning to relevancy before heading back to the wilderness years of mediocrity. Unless they have a magical season and sway some top recruits their way, I see more frustration for them in the years ahead.

    • But if they win big this year (10-2 or better) doesn’t it make sense for recruiting to go back up?

      • JCDAWG83

        Only if they make it to the SECCG. 10 wins with the 12 game schedule and the weak East this year won’t be anything to brag too much about.

      • 3rdandGrantham

        Perhaps, but I don’t think it helps their ’17 class much at all, as they have 20 on board already with none of the top remaining targets out there listing UT in their top 5. They are looking at two mediocre classes in a row, whereas both our ’16 and 17 utterly destroys theirs. We’re talking about gap of 6-8 less 5 star and 15-18 less 4 star players than us when you combine these years. Monster gap in talent imo.

        Next year will be a rebuilding year for them (they lose a ton after this year) which won’t help their efforts in ’18, and so on.

  6. Uglydawg

    . Maybe by the time they make it to Athens, the BIG Dawg will be ready to eat. This will be Georgia’s biggest opportunity of the season. The East and a long dominance of the Vols will be on the menu.

    • Uglydawg

      With a healthy Chubb and Sony..playing in Sanford…and with what could be the first start for Eason, ..and with a (some believe) much improved offensive line…Georgia may control the clock, and the East.

  7. UT has steadily built talent and experience over the first three seasons under Butch, and there is no way to view Shoop’s hiring as good from our competitive perspective. He is a smart guy who is willing to look at his profession with a more analytical bent than his competitors. That is concerning to me. Ultimately, my general belief is that programs take on the identity of its head coach. Jones is not a thoughtful nor particularly noteworthy coaching talent in virtually any respect.

    Over time, both UF and UGA are going to be better because both have access to more talent and have better coaches. Further, as long as Saban remains at Bama, they have a near certain lose in October. Thus, things could get tricky for him in years he has to play against a strong western team and possibly a difficult out of conference matchup.

    Ultimately, they are the favorites in 2016 by default, but UF and Auburn have demonstrated that the narrative that a first year coach can’t win a division is a bit off. Further, if one wants to draw parallels, the reason that their predecessors got fired was quite similar to the vaporizing of goodwill that Richt experienced from Bama through UF last year. Both UF and Auburn were significantly underperforming their talent, which left a lot of easy improvements in year one for their successor. We lost a TB and had an awful QB. If we get off to a strong September with Chubb/Eason performing well, that narrative will shift, and we will become the favorites in the east by the time UT shows up.

    • Mayor

      You mean the awful QB who set the NCAA record for completions last year in the South Carolina-UGA game and whose team was 10-2 in games he played in? That awful QB? Just sayin.’

  8. W Cobb Dawg

    When UGA hires a new DC, everyone expects a year of transition while we adjust to a new scheme, the new guy recruits ‘his kind of players’, etc., etc.. When (name school here) hires a new DC, instant improvement is expected. Go figure.

    I suppose Shoop is a step up from Jancek. Although I don’t see a huge difference between the two. Plus, I’m not sure why we refer to Shoop’s time at vandy as an example and overlook his most recent gig at state penn.

    “…the conference’s shrewdest hire of the offseason.” I’m somewhat biased, but I’d put my money on Kirby, Pittman, or Pruitt for that imaginary prize.

    • Penn State was fifth in total defense in the Big Ten last season. And first in the conference in 2014. That’s despite roster deficiencies from the Sandusky fallout.

      Glad you think so highly of Jancek. He’s now the safeties coach at USF.

      • Cojones

        Adding to that, I felt that his D at Vandy gave us fits. Those statements about his current Tenn personnel being unable to compete sorta’ blunts my take on Shoop’s abilities. We will see, and having them in Sanford Stadium is worth about 5 pts this year.

        • Will (The Other One)

          Well, we did struggle against them in ’13, but there were quite a few injuries on offense to go around by that point too. 2012 was a different story.

          I think the real fine print overlooked here is with all the talent on offense, and alleged Heisman candidate Dobbs at QB, how’d their offense rank far lower than the defense of the guy who got canned? And how is keeping that OC around a good move?

  9. HamDawg11

    I watched our game with UTK last night and noticed how poor their tackling was. Yeah, they’re talented alright. But their fundamentals looked eerily like some of our D’s over the years. Over-pursuit, arm tackling, hitting with a shoulder and not wrapping up. As bad as we were last year, I’m ashamed we still lost that game. We’re up 21 with 1:19 left in the 1st half and give up 14 pts in less than 60 seconds. It was a matter of time before they finally got us in a close game, but we had ’em on the ropes and couldn’t finish the drill. Here’s hoping they struggle with some of the same issues as last year and we keep our foot on the gas when things are clicking.

  10. PTC DAWG

    Georgia/UT UT/UF and Georgia/UF need to be bigger games for the East to gain some respect. Hopefully KIrby holds up our end of the bargain.

  11. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    They’ve been showing a few UT games from last year on one channel or another on the WWL.
    1) Saw the implosion against the Gators. Totally improbable. Hard to watch knowing the outcome: UT was in total control, and even I knew what the final score was going to be, I still thought UT would win.
    2) Later I saw the end of our game, and watched Greyson trying to engineer a scoring drive in the closing minute. That was the best of times and the worst of times. Best because he does manage the huddle, and calls the right plays, and reads the defense, and checks off appropriately. Sigh, but then he throws the ball. Balls low and almost on the turf, but Mitchell and Godwin save several and we get some first downs. A ball thrown over the middle that a UT player bats down. Three long bombs woefully off mark, two of which the receiver was open, one that Mitchell stripped from the UT player who had essentially intercepted the ball.

  12. stoopnagle

    They go:
    v. UF
    @ UGA
    @ A&M
    v. Bama

    Raise a paw if you think they’re going 4-0.

    • I had this conversation with a friend a few weeks ago. This isn’t a prediction by any means, but more of a drunken bar conversation. Say that Tennessee goes 1-3 during that stretch, but that 1 is against either Bama or Florida. As per usual, the calendar then turns to November and Tennessee doesn’t lose another game and finishes 9-3, but misses out on the SECCG due to a tiebreaker with UGA. What is the perception of that season up on Rocky Top? Sure – they finally beat Bama or Florida, but that’s got to be an absolute failure, right? Hell – they were probably two improbable 4th down conversions at the end of the first half against Georgia last year away from wondering whether Butch Jones was the right guy for the job anyways.

    • Sanford222view

      And just for fun the Vols record against those teams since 2000…

      v. UF: 3-13 (w/ 11 game losing streak)
      v. UGA: 5-11 (and 1-5 in last 6 games)
      v. A&M 1-0 (2005)
      v. Bama: 5-11 (w/ 9 game losing streak)

      That is a lot of mental hurdles to overcome during that stretch.