3. Defense transitioning to 3-4
The switch to a pro-style offense is one thing. Moving to a 3-4 defense, however, comes with way more issues. History shows that, and it gives Tennessee football fans every reason to worry about what’s going to happen this year.
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Teams who switch to a 3-4 in college are known to struggle for a couple of years. The Georgia Bulldogs almost fired Mark Richt five years earlier because he had two very mediocre years at the end of the decade when making the switch.
Meanwhile, the Vols themselves suffered a rough transition here. Their last Nick Saban protege to be their head coach, Derek Dooley, lost his job because of this switch. When Justin Wilcox left in 2011, he hired Sal Sunseri to come in and run the defense. The switch was made in his third year, when he had to perform. He didn’t.
That year, Tennessee football had a Top 20 offense and scored over 30 points in five of their eight SEC games that year. They managed to somehow go 1-7 in the conference, though. Heck, they scored over 40 points in two of their conference games and lost both of them. Why? The defense was absolutely atrocious.
So what’s going to happen this year? The Vols struggled anyway on defense last year, but it was mostly due to terrible offense. Will the script flip now? We’ll find out with Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer very soon. In fact, opening day against a high-powered passing offense like the West Virginia Mountaineers will immediately tell the story.