KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee improved in a lot of areas between the first and second game, but possibly no place saw more strides than the third-down defense.
The No. 23 Vols (2-0) gave up 13 first downs on 18 attempts on third down to Georgia Tech in Week 1, but gave up none in Week 2 to Indiana State in 11 opportunities.
The increase in production came with Tennessee keeping its defensive calls vanilla, as well. The Vols didn’t use many blitzes and held in their base defense for the entire game.
Coach Butch Jones said at his press conference Monday that the defense did what it needed to do.
“Defensively on third-down conversions, we were able to get off the field defensively,” Jones said. “We were 11-out-of-11 in being able to get off the field. I thought we improved our tackling from Week 1 to Week 2.”
Point of emphasis
Defensive tackle Kendal Vickers said Monday the coaching staff harped on getting off the field in a timely fashion.
“It was a point of emphasis throughout the whole week to get off on third down,” Vickers said. “We got in a position against Georgia Tech where it was third-and-8 or more and they converted. So, it was a point of emphasis and we were able to take care of that.”
Tennessee already has faced two unique offenses with Georgia Tech’s flexbone triple option and Indiana State using a lot of shifts and pre-snap movements.
Florida will present a more traditional attack Saturday, but with more playmakers. Tennessee will need to continue getting off the field on third downs to win.