Tennessee practices are about to include more “service periods” with 1s versus 2s and 2s versus 1s to get mistakes corrected and to demand excellence.
The reason being the Volunteers want more game-like repetitions while at work on Haslam Field.
“We have to get back to the formula that got us to the five wins,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Monday.
The Vols rank No. 69 in the nation in total defense (414.4 yards per game), tied for 38th in turnovers gained (15), 36th in defending third down (35 percent) and 76th in scoring defense (29.1 points per game).
Keying South Carolina’s 24-21 win over the Vols on Saturday was Jake Bentley, who made his first collegiate start. The Gamecocks converted on 5 of 16 third downs and their lone fourth-down attempt.
South Carolina netted 158 rushing yards but that required 49 attempts, resulting in a 3.2 average per attempt. The Vols defensive line racked up 10 tackles for loss, including six sacks, to go with four quarterback hurries.
The glaring stat from a negative standpoint was Tennessee — losers of three straight — generating zero takeaways, which is that much more alarming considering South Carolina started a true freshman at both quarterback and running back.
“That was the difference in the game that we didn’t get any takeaways,” first-year Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said Monday. “I think we were, what were we, minus-three in turnover margin in the game because of that.”
Absent from the lineup in Columbia was both starting cornerbacks, a starting safety and a starting linebacker. Three-fourths of the rotation at defensive tackle came up missing when Shy Tuttle joined the group of unavailable Vols with a season-ending injury.
“As you guys are probably going to ask me in a few seconds,” Shoop said, “I’ve never seen so many injuries, but guys continue to step up and do their best It is what it is. The guys are giving great effort in practice each week and great effort on Saturdays. It was great to have Kirkland back.”
Here's a look at some of the changes expected for Saturday's lineup versus Tennessee Tech against what Vols started the opener in the win over Appalachian State:
LE LaTroy Lewis Corey Vereen
DT Kendal Vickers
DT Danny O’Brien Kyle Phillips
RE Derek Barnett
WLB Jalen Reeves-Maybin Colton Jumper
MLB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LCB Cameron Sutton Justin Martin
RCB Emmanuel Moseley
SS Todd Kelly Jr.
FS Micah Abernathy Evan Berry
NK Malik Foreman RaShaan Gaulden
See much more from Shoop by watching InsideTennessee's video above.