Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop has yet to coach a game for his new team, but he isn’t hesitating to set the bar high for a unit that boasts talent across the board.
Shoop, who joined coach Butch Jones’ staff in January, had this to say about his unit Monday night, via Jimmy Hyams, host on Knoxville, Tenn., sports radio station WNML: “We’re very committed. We’re going to stop the run. Nobody will run the football on the Orange Swarm. Nobody will run the football on Tennessee.”
A bold claim indeed. The Volunteers ranked ninth in the SEC and 45th in the nation last season in run defense, allowing 151.6 yards a game.
Shoop, who has served as defensive coordinator for 13 seasons, including the last two at Penn State, then touched on his philosophy: “Eleven men flying to the football like their hair is on fire. We’re going to come after the QB. Pressure makes the pipes burst.”
Jones and the Vols, a strong choice as preseason favorites to win the SEC East, are under pressure to have a breakthrough season. The defense, which returns star linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, looks like a loaded unit.
Shoop’s unbridled optimism seems to be filtering down to his players, too, even one like him, who has yet to play a game for the Volunteers. Junior college transfer Jonathan Kongbo said he’s certain Tennessee will beat Florida and Alabama, and basically guaranteed an undefeated season.
That’s plenty of big talk still months before fall camp opens. Come September, Shoop and company will have to walk the walk.