WHO IS BACK
For the first time in what seems like decades, Tennessee is returning to all but one coaching position a year ago as Kodi Burns left after freshman year to head to the NFL. But the rest of the program falls from the coaches on the field to almost all the analysts, the strength staff and the recruiting office.
That’s as much continuity as this program has had for a long, long time.
WHO IS NEW
With Burns gone, Josh Heupel walked down the aisle and promoted analyst Kesley Pope to the role of wide receivers coach, ensuring program continuity. Pope had a relationship with the receivers a year ago, which made the transition easier for this group. This is Pope’s first coaching job on the pitch.
511 — Number of points accumulated by the Vol offense in 2021. It is an average of 39.3 points per game, which was good for 7th nationally
67% – The offense’s touchdown percentage in red zone possessions. Tennessee was 57th nationally in the red zone offense.
44% — Combined conversion rate of 3rd and 4th downs by Vols opponents in 2021. Tennessee ranked 103rd nationally in third defense.
The attacking staff led by Josh Heupel proved they could score points and a lot. Tennessee’s offense moved the ball against everyone a year ago, including a Georgia defense that was the best in the nation. It certainly looks like the scheme is working.
Defensively, the biggest strength is the fact that everyone is back and there isn’t the unknown from a year ago. Last season everyone was wondering what the defensive style would be and how Tim Banks would handle the coordinator role in the SEC. The defense was far from great, but they have an identity and a style and having it back in full is a big plus for the Vols.
There is obviously concern about how the defenses will counter Heupel’s offense after playing against them for a year. Now, Heupel has been through a lot and no league has stopped the offense or really slowed it down from first to second year, but every school in the league has studied their offense this offseason.
There are the obvious production issues of the red zone offense and the short distance offense. Both need to be better and what is the adjustment this offseason to improve that.
Defensively, it’s about getting out of the field. Yes, they need more depth and more talent, but basically how can they improve their third defense which was their Achilles heel a season ago.