football Edit

Shoop's defense recharged after tough finish

The loss at Vanderbilt to round out November still stings for this team. A beaten and battered defense just couldn't withstand those last few games and couldn't plug up the leaks fast enough to get past the Commodores with a trip to the Sugar Bowl on the line.

"Some how, some way we found a way to go 3-1 in the month of November," Shoop said. "If the season had ended at the end of Tennessee Tech then you would probably have said the defense had some injuries, but they held their own. Those last three games were tough and I own those. Those are on me, We found a way to win two of those last three. You have a sour taste in your mouth after that last game, but TK (Todd Kelly) looks a lot better, DK (Darren Kirkland) looks a lot better and Cam looks a lot healthier than he did two weeks ago before the last game of the regular season."

Time will heal and has healed several of the banged up defensive Vols. It also gives this group a chance to step back and evaluate how they move forward both between the white lines and between the ears.

"Time heals some of those wounds," Shoop said. "Nobody is going to confuse Kentucky or Missouri for good defense, but we won both of those games by multiple scores. The Kentucky game was 49 to 22 when they gained 200 yards after that. I kind of put that on one on the back burner. The Missouri game, I don't think that was ever in question. They ran 115 snaps and that was a bazaar sequence of events. The Vanderbilt game was sour. That leaves a sour taste in your mouth. There is no question about that. It's a one week season.

“That was part of the problem at the end of the year, we didn't have the necessary depth where we could pull a guy out and put another guy in. I will go back to the Missouri game. We had five players play over 100 snaps in that game. So you ask about the cumulative affect of the Vanderbilt game that's seven days later. You are practicing all week. There's a significant wear and tear on you body in today's game to go out and play like that – 115 snaps is a game and a half of football. It's crazy to think about.”

So how does Tennessee improve the defense? That question has been asked by almost everyone inside and outside of the program. After having some time to reviews, Shoop wasn't pleased and he has studied each part of his defense over the last few weeks. He's looking and searching for the perfect potion.

"I watched all the games sequentially after the season," Shoop said. "I literally watched every single game. To watch our style of play from the beginning of the season to the end of the season almost looks like two different teams."

Shoop focused on the now, but sees bright spots for the future

For Shoop, the focus now is on Nebraska, but admittedly he sees plenty of bright spots for the future.

“You see Mykelle McDaniel out there,” Shoop said. “I don't get a chance to see him a lot because he's on scout team. Certainly as the regular season ends and you get into bowl practice those first few practices are program development practices where you get to see a lot of different players so watching him rush the passer during pass rush periods has been good. I would be doing our seniors a disservice if I started thinking about next year, but you do because you are in recruiting, you are thinking about the future roster and things like that. I get excited about the thought of Darrell Taylor. I get excited about the thought of Jonathan Kongbo in his second year as a three technique. Those things fire me up. The thought of DK (Darrin Kirkland), Daniel Bituli being a guy and Nigel Warrior. Obviously congratulations to Derek Barnett for being an All-American, and an All-SEC player, but also Nigel Warrior for being an All-SEC freshman player. Those are all positive things that we can build on. Once we get back in January, I will have individual meetings with players and put 2016 to bed and look forward to a better 2017.”

Scott on being on the coaching radar

After posting a 4-2 record at Miami last season as the interim head coach, Larry Scott’s name has come up in a few coaching searches the last few weeks.

Volquest.com confirmed Scott, currently Tennessee’s tight ends coach and special teams coordinator, interviewed for the Florida Atlantic head coaching position that was eventually filled by Lane Kiffin.

Scott also had interest in the South Florida head coaching position that Charlie Strong ended up landing.

Scott said Wednesday he aspires to be a head coach once again but is waiting for the right opportunity to make that happen.

“This time of year always brings about those speculations and conversations and different things all over the country. Obviously, I do aspire to be a head coach again sometime. But, we have a really good thing going here at Tennessee,” Scott explained. “If those opportunities don’t present themselves at the right places at the right time, what better place is there to be than right here at Tennessee with what we’re doing, and how we’re doing this and the way we’re recruiting and the way we’re doing things here right now. There’s no place better to be here, right now.

Scott said he and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones have open communication about the positions that come on his radar..

“Open dialogue and communication. Coach knows that it’s a goal of mine, to be a head coach again,” Scott said. “But, I’m not going to rush into anything. I’m not going to make a rash decision. We’re going to always be open and honest with each other and communicate with where we are with those things. and when those things come up he’s always going to be the first to know and he’s very involved. He always does research and helps me to cultivate those things if need be.”