KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s defense looked awful for most of the season opener against Georgia Tech on Monday night.
The Vols allowed 655 yards of offense and 41 points.
But don’t rush to conclusions on the defense’s abilities, said Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, who spoke with the media Thursday.
“I wouldn’t make too many judgments off that one game,” Shoop said. “Wait until we get into more traditional games.
“The identity of a team and the identity of a unit kind of evolves after the first couple of games.”
One reason the coaching staff wants fans to keep the faith is the uniqueness of Georgia Tech’s offense. The Yellow Jackets run a flex bone triple-option attack, which the Vols won’t see for the remainder of the season.
Georgia Tech ran 96 plays in the game — 86 of those coming on the ground. That type of play can wear down a defense.
The fatigue manifested itself in poor tackling.
“I thought our style of play was really good,” Shoop said. “I thought our effort was outstanding over the course of the game. And I think, looking back, obviously tackling was the thing that was most disappointing.”
Not having any usable film after the game might be the toughest part about playing Georgia Tech. The offense is so different from most teams that the Vols don’t have a great grasp on where exactly to improve.
“There are things we need to improve,” said defensive line coach Brady Hoke. “It is tough to compare what they do to traditional football, to some degree. It’s a little hard to say where we are at.”
Tennessee takes on Indiana State at home Saturday, a game that will serve as a nice tune-up for Florida the following week. The coaching staff needs to figure out what the defense is all about, and fast.