The Monday Mailbag

You ask the questions. We answer them. Everyone goes home happy.

What's the player reaction been to the John Jancek/Bob Shoop change? — cartersvillevol

The players seem to love the move and realize they're getting the chance to play with one of the most respected defensive minds in the NCAA in a pivotal 2016 season. I'm sure there were a lot of players who were saddened to see John Jancek go. After all, he's been with most of them from the beginning when he arrived with Butch Jones in 2013, and Jancek is the kind of guy you instantly like as soon as he starts talking. He's got a polished wit about him and his extremely candid, which is refreshing when it comes to the canned answers you normally get from coaches. But from the reaction of players on Twitter and inside the complex, the move seems to be met with a resounding excitement for the future. 

https://twitter.com/ToddKellyJr6/status/685987294902390784

I don't see Dillon Bates name anywhere in Danny's three deep. He will be a redshirt sophomore this fall. Do you think he is destined to be special teams for the rest of his time here? Is he in the dog house with Jones & company? — clrlyric

If you missed what clrlyric is talking about, my boss Danny Parker did a really nice piece on what Bob Shoops will inherit coming into this season and a projected three-deep depth chart for 2016. Dillon Bates didn't crack Danny's depth chart, but that doesn't mean he won't compete, especially with Shoop coming in without any prior knowledge to the play of any of the linebackers other than what he'll have seen on tape. While the redshirt sophomore was only a special teamer in 2015, he absolutely has a shot at vying for a productive role at linebacker, especially if Jalen Reeves-Maybin decides to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft. He has the skill set. Bates gets off blocks well and was known at Ponte Verda (Fla.) High School for his good coverage and propensity to always be around the ball, but that hasn't translated yet to the college level, at least from what we've seen of him so far. Make no mistake, though, Bates can snag a spot in the three-deep and he'll try to do just that this spring. 

Will Bob Shoop sway any high profile recruits currently committed to Penn State to follow him to The Hill? — OldVol74

I'm not so sure any of the recruits Penn State has now will flip to Tennessee now, but I'm also horrible at predicting and gambling and will most likely be wrong about this because that's just how it goes with my life. Shoop's biggest asset lies in what he can do for those players who aren't connected to Penn State due to his reputation as one of the best defensive minds in the business. We've already started to see this in Scout five-star defensive end and former Vols commit Jonathan Kongbo, who tweeted that "Coach Shoop is legit" after the hire was announced.

I am seeing posts that one of the things that sets Bob Shoop apart from other coaches is his teaching of fundamentals. If coaches are not teaching fundamentals, what do they usually do at practice? I have often thought that coaches that are considered geniuses are the ones that stress the basics: good blocking, proper tackling techniques, etc. Thanks. — ORGUTVOLFAN

I am not an expert on anything. Literally, I have no discernable skills whatsoever and if it weren't for InsideTennessee hiring me I would be working as a fry cook at a Biloxi Waffle House and doing amateur ear piercings on the side. But even I know most coaches at least go over the fundamentals of tackling and blocking at some point during the season, usually during spring practice. What separates Bob Shoop from everybody we've talked to is how he's able to teach those fundamentals to stick, and how his players embrace those teachings and are able to recall them during quick split-second decisions during a game. This past season at Penn State Shoop really harped on not missing tackles, and it helped create yet another Top 25 defense for him and his Nittany Lions. Shoop describes his defensive philosophy as based on two premises: "relentless pursuit and never-ending pressure." He also does a good job of keeping the terminology simple and "utilizing guys as interchangeable parts and stemming out of a 4-3 to a 3-4." With the talent he's inheriting at Tennessee, the fundamentals will likely be there, and once he hammers them home once again, the Vols are in for a monumental 2016.


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