KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Bob Shoop already has seen enough of Tennessee’s offense in practice to pity future opposing defensive coordinators.
“Our offense is a pain in the butt,” Shoop concluded, asked Thursday what it’s like to go up against Mike DeBord’s unit. “Nobody likes going against a mobile quarterback (and) Josh (Dobbs) has the ability, he makes you think about …. a mobile quarterback makes you think about some of the things you want to do press-wise, whether you want to play much man or different things like that.
“You could do everything right, the play could break down, and he could make a play,” he said. “The combination of him, Jalen (Hurd), Alvin (Kamara), and John Kelly has had a great camp as you guys know. All the sudden, if you want to load the box, out on the perimeter it’s Preston (Williams), or it’s Josh (Malone), or it’s Josh Smith in the slot, those guys have done really well, and I’m sure DeBo (DeBord) talked a little bit about Tyler Byrd.”
What we know
Shoop gave an overview of his defense: “I think we’re right on schedule” when asked at his media opportunity Thursday.
“I think the front four has played well, I think we’ve got real good depth at D-End, (and) the D-Tackle position is playing well,” Shoop said. “Boy, (Darrin) Kirkland has established himself as a top-flight linebacker, we just have to keep him sharp over the next few weeks. We’re still working to establish depth at linebacker, and I think we have some good pieces to the secondary.
“Positional flexibility is going to be a key there, we’re just trying to get the best five players in the secondary on the field for us.”
Shoop said UT has done more work in the 4-3 alignment than in the past, partly because of Appalachian State’s ability to run the ball well.
The Vols’ first-year defensive coordinator said that Emmanuel Moseley and Justin Martin, two of the top cornerback candidates to start opposite Cam Sutton, both had interceptions in Wednesday night’s practice.
Shoop said he wants fans to recognize Tennessee’s secondary as it has been known, the “Orange Swarm,” but he does call his six defensive back package the “Cheetah.”
”I know when Chief (John Chavis) was here he had a Mustang Package,” Shoop said. “When you think about Swarm you think about 11 men, wearing the Power T on the helmet and their orange uniforms flying to the football, and really more than a name, that’s the identity I want you to think about when you watch us play.
“I want to see a group of guys that play with tremendous passion, tremendous toughness, ‘T-Toughness’ as Coach (Butch) Jones would call it and a team-first mindset.”
Jonathan Kongbo’s green jersey does not necessarily indicate an injury, any more than Jalen Hurd, Todd Kelly Jr. and Evan Berry not being at practice suggests serious ailments.
Coach Butch Jones told the media Wednesday not to push any panic buttons over who was or wasn’t at practice.
Vereen was watching practice Thursday, but he was not in pads or helmet, perhaps resting up for Saturday’s closed scrimmage at Neyland Stadium.
Other players in the green jerseys Thursday were: Jauan Jennings, Austin Smith, D.J. Henderson, Jalen-Reeves Maybin, Micah Abernathy, MaLeik Gatewood.
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s SEC Country and lives in Knoxville.