KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Bob Shoop’s defense pitched a second-half shutout against Appalachian State last Thursday, and the “Orange Swarm” looks to continue its strong play against Virginia Tech’s uptempo attack at the “Battle at Bristol.”
Earlier this week, Shoop dished on Tennessee’s overall performance against Appalachian State, the keys to slowing down Va. Tech, Shy Tuttle’s availability and Jonathan Kongbo’s first-career game.
How did you think the defense performed against Appalachian State?
Shoop: “They’re a good team. I tried to tell you guys that last week. We held them to under 180 yards below their average. If you had said to me before the game that’d we’d have given up 13 points and 290 yards, I’d have said that’s a pretty good days work against those guys. We’re pleased with the win, but not satisfied.”
What’s the key to slowing down Virginia Tech’s tempo attack?
Shoop: “We have a plan for everything. Fortunately we go against it everyday in practice. Our offense goes at a pretty high pace, a pretty high tempo. At Monday this week, we actually did a ‘Sonic’ period where the offense ran kind of an unrealistic pace against us. It’s not just getting lined up. It’s playing. What I challenged our guys to do is we’re going to be the first no-huddle, tempo defense in the world this week. When they get to the line of scrimmage, we’re going to beat them to the line of scrimmage. First up mentality. … We don’t really have a choice, so we better be ready to go for it.”
Do your players want to be the first no-huddle, tempo defense?
Shoop: “I hope so. They chuckled when I said it. But that’s what we’re going to be. We’re going to be the fastest tempo defense in the world this week.”
What sort of challenges do Virginia Tech’s playmakers present?
Shoop: “That’s as good a receiving corps as there is in college football right now. Isaiah Ford has caught a lot of balls, and he’s one of the top receivers in the ACC. (Bucky) Hodges certainly creates unique matchup problems with his size and (Cam) Phillips had a big game last week catching the first touchdown of the year. He’s an excellent slot receiver and has done a really, really good job.”
Will Shy Tuttle play this week?
Shoop: “Shy is practicing more and more. Alexis (Johnson) has practiced a lot, but he’s still learning the defense before we put too much on him. Darrel Taylor, Kyle Phillips, those guys deserve to play and we’re going to need those guys this week.”
What was your assessment of Jonathan Kongbo’s first game?
Shoop: “I thought it was great. He’s done a good job for us. We’ve talked about different things and playing him at different positions, App State really had a pretty good game plan that prevented us from getting into some of the different magic show-type things we have. But Jonathan did a really good job. I kind of teased him today. They talk about that kid (DeMarcus Walker) at Florida State who had all the sacks the other night. He’s a DE who they moved into 3-technique and he had 4.5 sacks and was the Most Valuable Player of the Game for those guys. We need our guys up front to play and we need them to be dominant and disruptive.”