First year defensive line coach Brady Hoke is making a difference on and off the field. ESPN has released two different stories on Hoke this week, one praising him as a recruiter and a quick video from the SEC Network talking about his short time in Knoxville. Hoke and Jones talked a little bit about their defensive line in the feature.
Hoke flamed out at Michigan after getting his big shot to be the head man of a big time football program. He resurfaced last year as Oregon’s defensive coordinator, but was fired after just one disastrous season.
Now he lands in Knoxville in a much more concentrated role. Butch Jones is already utilizing him hard on the trail, but his impact on the defensive line needs to be felt immediately. Tennessee couldn’t stay healthy up front last year, causing a number of problems down the stretch. It’s hard to say what could have been if not for those injuries, but still — the Vols have a group of guys on the defensive line that have underachieved to this point. Hoke is tasked with fixing that issue.
Shy Tuttle has flashed but has unfortunately sustained two major injuries. Kahlil McKenzie hasn’t lived up to his five star billing yet. Darrell Taylor, Kyle Phillips and Jonathan Kongbo have yet to get their shot full time, but that’s about to change.
In the video, Jones had high praise for new starter at defensive end, saying “Jonathan Kongbo has really grown into one of our voices on defense.” That’s good to hear after Kongbo’s disappointing first season. Tennessee is going to have to have a big year from him to have any success defensively.
Hopefully Brady Hoke has found his niche in Knoxville. There’s no doubt that the talent is there up front, it’s just a matter of developing that talent. That’s been an issue for Butch Jones so far. Maybe Hoke can help Jones kick that trend.