Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop got the chance to talk about his unit’s performance on Monday night and explain just how tough of a job he had to execute. Georgia Tech’s flexbone looked created a unique situation for Shoop, calling for some unorthodox practices.
Shoop began by discussing why the defensive lineman were playing so far back, which is something many of you noticed during the game.
“We did line them up back a little for cut block protection,” Shoop said. “Against their offense that’s really not a significant deal.” He mentioned the fact that Georgia Tech really wasn’t running up the middle all that much, but getting the ball to the edge.
“That was as unbelievable of a chess match as I had ever seen,” Shoop continued. “They didn’t run any triple option after those first two series. We probably had two or three tackles for loss on those first two series of the game. The way we were aligned and structured took away the triple option.”
Shoop went on to mention how Paul Johnson adjusted and moved to “quarterback follow” plays and “belly options.” Shoop said that Johnson made several different plays the “main events” of his offense and said that Georgia Tech had a lot of “if-then” statements which determined how they operated their offense.
“I think we had a little bit of an upper hand in the first half. I thought the third quarter they had a significant upper hand. And I think we caught up a little bit in the 4th quarter,” Shoop said.
Shoop continued, “I don’t think I’ve ever been that tired at the end of a game. Every series was, okay here’s what they did, here’s what we need to do now. I’ve had people call me and tell me that they’ve never seen such a broad gameplan from Coach Johnson.”
It seemed like whatever Tennessee did, Georgia Tech had an answer and a new wrinkle to top it.
When asked if he didn’t like anything he saw on tape, Shoop singled out one thing. “Tackling was the part that was disappointing.” He mentioned the long pass play that was a result of the missed tackle from Justin Martin early in the game.
Shoop did praise the unit for playing hard against a tough opponent. “The guys effort was outstanding,” Shoop mentioned.
There may have been a bust or two along the way, but effort certainly wasn’t an issue. He mentioned earlier in the week that fatigue may have been an issue and that they didn’t rotate enough players along the defensive line.
“I wouldn’t make too many judgments based on that one game. Wait till we get into more of a traditional game,” Shoop said.
It’s tough, but Shoop is right on the money here. Count that one as a win and delete it from your memory. We’ll get our first real taste of how this defense can stop the run against Florida. I think you can start drawing some conclusions at that point.