KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Defensive staff changes are on the horizon, SEC Country has learned, and North Carolina defensive backs coach Charlton Warren is among the sought-after replacements.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones said after a 9-4 season he would be thorough in his review of the staff, and a defense that finished 95th overall was not up to his standard.
Coordinator Bob Shoop had previously never finished outside the top 25 on defense, so even with heavy attrition, it only makes sense there would be changes.
UT cornerbacks coach Willie Martinez was a former defensive coordinator at Georgia who has likely drawn great interest from other staffs and could be moving on after last year’s struggles and unrest in the secondary.
Tennessee started 11 different secondary combinations as a result of players suffering injuries or being suspended, and there were times the defensive backfield appeared out of sync.
Outgoing senior cornerback Cam Sutton appeared to regress the past two seasons and was shying away from contact in the final month of the season after returning from the fractured ankle he suffered the third game of the season against Ohio. Sutton, of course, will look to change that trend at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., later this week.
Cornerback Justin Martin, a rising senior, is another player who has not shown the sort of development many would expect despite his great athleticism. Martin’s status with the team this spring is worth keeping an eye on.
SEC Country’s Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discuss the pending changes on defense and what it might mean for some current staff members.
Also, the Tennessee men’s basketball team showed some grit with an impressive road win at Vanderbilt that it hopes can turn the season around.