Vols learning ‘tough’ lessons from new defensive leader

Vols learning ‘tough’ lessons from new defensive leader

Posted: Friday, April 6, 2012 7:00 pm

KNOXVILLE — The mindset of the Tennessee defense is changing from multiple angles. Not only has new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri implemented multiple defensive schemes, but he has demanded “toughness” while doing it.
“My whole thing is if you go out, you put your product on the field and your name is on your back, I want toughness, I want discipline and I want you to act like a pro,” Sunseri said after the Vols’ Wednesday morning practice inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.
Considering the complexity of everything the Vols are trying to take in this spring, Sunseri has been pleased with the progress.
“They’ve responded,” Sunseri said. They’ve done a lot of good things. They’re trying to work hard. It’s a lot of new language for them. They’ve given me everything they have. I’m extremely pleased with their effort. I’m extremely pleased with the way that they’re trying to come learn it. Are they going to learn it overnight? No, they’re not.
“They’re going to keep on working. We have 15 days and that’s the way I look at it. Then, we’re going to have another 27 days. These guys have come in here. They’ve bought in. They want to get better. They want to go out and play like a champion.”
Becoming a champion doesn’t happen because of the players putting in extensive work. Everyone is putting in the time.
“No, because I think we have good coaches,” Sunseri said on whether the players are struggling with the concepts. “Derek went out, got good coaches and we work hard at what we do. We stay here very late at night. The most important thing is that we’re going to give the kids the information for them to be successful.”
While much has been made of the Vols’ base 3-4 defense, Tennessee will show multiple looks in 2012. But it isn’t anyone else’s system.
“I’m putting the Univer-sity of Tennessee’s system in,” Sunseri said. “I’ve worked with John Fox, who you guys know was a 4-3 guy. You’re going to see a multiplicity of fronts and coverages. It’s the University of Tennessee system.”
For the University of Tennessee system to work, it has to be about the University of Tennessee.
“I’m pleased with the whole defense, not necessarily one individual,” Sunseri said. “There are 11 guys out there playing against people. If we can win nine out of the 11 matches, we’re going to be successful.”
That requires every person to be all-in as Sunseri transforms his unit. Published in The WCP 4.5.12

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