KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop has a “Next Man Up” mentality when it comes to the fallout from Darrell Taylor’s indefinite suspension this week.
Vols coach Butch Jones suspended Taylor, a starting defensive end and arguably the defense’s “Alpha Dog,” after a practice fight with jumbo offensive lineman Trey Smith last week that escalated beyond acceptable measures.
Tennessee (3-2) plays host to South Carolina (4-2) at noon on Saturday at Neyland Stadium (TV: ESPN).
“It’s next man up mentality, and it’s an opportunity,” Shoop said Monday night when asked his reaction to Taylor’s suspension. “Kyle Phillips has payed fairly well and he’ll get the start with (Jonathan) Kongbo, and obviously it’s an opportunity for Matt Butler and Deandre Johnson, two young players.”
Johnson was a spring term enrollee last January, and he produced a sack in his first extended playing time this season during the Vols’ 42-7 win over Indiana State.
Butler, from Garner, N.C., starred in the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Game and will be anxious to make the most of his playing time after setting very high goals for himself.
Tennessee redshirt sophomore Austin Smith is also expected to make his season debut against the Gamecocks.
Smith, a 6-foot-3, 236-pound player from Buford, Ga., was projected to start at strong side linebacker in fall camp but suffered a knee injury.
“On passing downs, you may some creativity, and we’ll put Austin Smith in there and do some things with him as a fourth rusher,” Shoop said. “Deandre has played, he’s been in the rotation.
“Matt is very diligent, he’s a hard worker. His best quality is also his worst quality in that he’s very, very hard on himself. Every mistake is the end of the world, so I’m looking forward to seeing him play and it will be a great experience for him to play a against a really good South Carolina team.”
Tennessee beat writer Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discussed what Darrell Taylor’s suspension means to the team and how import the Vols’ next game is for the team as the season progresses.