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Vols need defensive help

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The stats for the Vols defense were ugly Monday night.

Ugly and concerning.

One stat that's not listed in the stat-sheet is snaps played in a game by each individual, but that stat might be the most concerning moving forward for Bob Shoop's defense.

Defensive end Jonathan Kongbo said he played "roughly 90 snaps" Monday night and he wasn't the only defensive linemen to play well over 70 snaps in the season opener against Georgia Tech.

On Wednesday, head coach Butch Jones said his defense needs to play more people, but quickly noted some people need to earn those snaps but gaining people's trust.

“I don't think I've ever been through a game where they (the opponent) had over 80 rushing attempts,” Jones said.

“It was one of those games. We have spoken about it as a staff and we need to play more players on defense particularly in the defensive front. Like we talk about, it's consistency in performance. It starts in practice earning the trust of your coaches and peers. It's something we will continue to coach and it's something moving forward we are going to have to play a significant amount of other players. Some of it is experience.

"Some of it is the first game. I think the game in and of itself from a defensive standpoint was completely different. You need some maturity. You all need some experience to go through what those individuals were going through on a down by down basis. As we move forward and the season progresses, you are exactly right we are going to have to play a lot more individuals.”

Tech wore down the Vols' defensive front, who forced a pair of 3-and-outs to start the game but allowed a school-record of 535 yards rushing. Kongbo gave credit to adjustments that Tech made to helping the Yellow jackets have success.

“I think at first it was quite easy. We were prepared,” Kongbo said. “We saw a lot of things we saw in practice. Their offensive coaches did a good job of switching it up on us, but I felt like we were pretty prepared. It was necessary fast, but it was chaotic. There's a lot of things happening at once in that offense.”

What changed?

“They ran a lot more quarterback runs and stopped pitching it so much on the outside.”

Fatigue clearly played a roll in the defense's struggles. Kongbo acknowledged how tired the defensive front was, but noted they it was simply a gut check moment late.

“Definitely I was tired, but the end of the game was a man up moment. The game was on the line. I was running on that,” Kongbo said.

The quick turnaround is a challenge for the Vols this week, but the bigger challenge is finding help. Kongbo said some freshmen are developing, but after playing 90 snaps in week one, help can't come fast enough.

“I think guys like DeAndre Johnson and Kivon Bennett could help us out a lot. They are coming along nicely and I'm looking forward to see them in the coming weeks,” Kongbo offered.

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