Tennessee beat writer Mike Griffith provides updates on Vols football
Posted by Tennessee Volunteers Insiders on Thursday, August 11, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Championship teams most always involve the concept of synergy, where the sum is greater than the combination of all parts.
In Thursday night’s Facebook Live session, Tennessee’s team chemistry was discussed as a result of junior college transfer Jonathan Kongbo posting apparent displeasure with an expanded role on Twitter.
Kongbo, a 6-foot-6, 282-pounder, was not happy to be asked to play some repetitions at defensive tackle, even though two of his smaller defensive end line mates will also get work inside and star end Derek Barnett played inside in a package last season.
Kongbo is still new to the game and only 20 years old, so it was likely a case of naivety and immaturity, more than anything.
UT first-year defensive coordinator Bob Shoop surely recognized that, and pulled Kongbo aside to discuss it, explaining to the media the confusion on Thursday before the negative Tweet could gain too much momentum.
It was a veteran move for Shoop, who himself is a proven commodity.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said at SEC Media Day that Shoop is one of the defensive coaches he has studied, looking for new or better concepts to improve his Crimson Tide championship unit.
That’s why Auburn tried to hire Shoop after last season, too, with Coach Gus Malzahn flying him down to the so-called “Plains” more than once for interviews.
Shoop has had his Vanderbilt and Penn State defenses in the nation’s top 25 the past five years, and part of his genius involves moving players around and creating matchups.
Kongbo didn’t understand the move would make UT’s defense better.
In many cases players in this era seem more interested in what’s best for them, rather than what’s best for the team, and Kongbo’s Twitter reaction was a red flag.
Older, more experienced players have bought in to Shoop and his methods.
But for UT to win the SEC championship, it will take all the players being on board with a team-first concept.