Two Tennessee football Volunteers defensive coordinators met up over the weekend.
One carved out a name in the SEC as one of the greatest defensive coordinators of all time, particularly during his 14-year run with Tennessee football. The other is just getting started in his career as a coordinator.
Former Vols defensive coordinator John Chavis, who was in that role under Phillip Fulmer from 1995 to 2008, met up with current UT defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley over the weekend. Chavis most recently served as defensive coordinator of the Arkansas Razorbacks under Chad Morris for two years.
A graduate of Tennessee football who played nose tackle under Bill Battle and then Johnny Majors from 1976 to 1978, Chavis was defensive coordinator under Kevin Sumlin and the Texas A&M Aggies from 2015 to 2017, and before that he served in the role under Les Miles and the LSU Tigers from 2009 to 2014. Ansley posted a picture of their meeting on Twitter.
It was an honor to spend time & pick the brain of Coach John Chavis. One of College Football’s most respected coordinators & VOL LEGEND. We are grateful for him sharing some of his wisdom with our staff. #VFL #LearnAndGrow#Pick6 pic.twitter.com/Ag1U6siKYG
— Derrick Ansley (@DansleyAnsley) June 29, 2020
There is obviously a sense of camaraderie among SEC defensive coordinators who cut their teeth in the region, and given Chavis’ run on Rocky Top, Ansley would obviously love spending time with him. However, they do come at the system from different philosophies.
Ansley, just like his boss in Jeremy Pruitt, lives by the 3-4 and the nickel-based 4-2-5. He specializes in the secondary and developed in that role, coaching defensive backs for the Oakland Raiders in 2018, the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2016 and 2017, the Kentucky Wildcats from 2013 to 2015 and even UT in 2012. He played that position with the Troy Trojans from 2001 to 2004.
On the other hand, Chavis was known for his use of the 4-3, where he always put faith in his defensive ends to have the proper speed around the edges. To be fair, his experience was coaching on the front seven, as before being a coordinator, he spent six years as a defensive line and linebackers coach with the Vols.
At the same time, they do have similar ideologies in certain areas. Both Ansley and Chavis love to have tons of blitz packages in their playbook that they can dial up at different times. Chavis is one of the architects of the zone blitz out of the 4-3 based on speed, which he perfected in the 1990s. Last year, Ansley was super unpredictable with where his blitzes would come from.
Taking that into account, Ansley could certainly benefit from spending time with Chavis. A hallmark of Chavis’ career was figuring out eventually how to shut down trendy offenses, from the fun-n-gun to the spread. If Ansley could replicate the success Chavis had in the 1990s, Tennessee football will be in great shape going forward.