In 2012, the Tennessee defense broke school records for futility. Finishing 14th in a 14-team SEC in total defense and scoring defense, the Volunteers surrendered 2,266 yards on the ground and 3,390 yards through the air. They were battered for a grand total of 5,656 yards, a 6.13 yards-per-play average, and 428 points, including 53 touchdowns.
The basic math? UT’s foes averaged 35.7 points and 471.3 yards per game.
“That’s really my concern with this group in a first ball game. Hey, if something bad happens, maybe they get a big pass, or there’s a turnover, or they get a long run, or there’s something that happens to change the momentum on special teams — how are we going to respond as a defense. That’s what I’m probably paying most attention to.”
Tennessee’s new defense is reportedly much simpler than the complex/confusing/confounding scheme drawn up by one-and-done coordinator Sal Sunseri a year ago. At the very least, the Vols shouldn’t set any new lows when it comes to school history.
The Volunteers open against Austin Peay on Saturday. That needs to be a confidence-builder for a group that will face Bobby Petrino’s Western Kentucky squad and then travel to Oregon and Florida before the end of September.