The acclimation period will be more trying to the offense than defense since the Vols already run a 4-3 scheme that is fast albeit undersized. The key to such a approach on defense is a pair of burly tackles to control the center of the line and draw double team attention. That helps free the linebackers to flow to the ball or blitz the passer.
While Kiffin's defense is widely regarded as a bend-but-don't-break scheme, it also forces a high number of turnovers and is most effective in the red zone. Kiffin cares less about yards surrendered than points and are normally among the NFL's toughest defenses to score against.
Like a lot of coaches in the nation and almost all the teams in the SEC, John Chavis adopted a defense very similar to the type Kiffin prefers. Both coordinators like to develop safeties into linebackers, cornerbacks into safeties, and linebackers into defensive ends.
He also likes to show a cover two with both safeties back and morph into cover three with the middle linebacker racing to cover the middle deep zone at the snap. Ellix Wilson is the type of player who could have fit that role well. However a player like Gerald Williams, at 255 pounds, who played linebacker in high school and junior college wouldn't likely fit the requirements at the Mike linebacker.
However Rae Sykes at 6-3, 253 pounds, is the ideal agile, quick defensive end who would fit Kiffin's speed-first philosophy. Sykes runs a 4.7 time in the 40 and also played tight end at Alcoa.
Jonathan Hollins will play at 6-3, 290, and offers the type of quickness to play defensive tackle or a strong side defensive end for the Vols. In nine games as a freshman Hollins recorded 31 tackles with eight sacks, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries for College of the the Canyon.
Played in nine games --missing two with a broken toe) -- and had 31 Tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Hollins played his high school football Redemptorist Senior High School in Baton Rouge, La. He signed with Texas Tech before seeking the Junior College route. Ranked a four-star prospect by Scout.com, Hollins should become a fixture in Tennessee's D-line rotation.
LIke Hollins, Sykes was a four-star defensive end at Alcoa, who failed to qualify coming out of high school and instead attended Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan.
The Vols would have liked to hit the trifecta and signed Edwin Herbert too, but as it is they got two quality prospects that fit Monte's Army like a glove.