Of course, the Volunteers defense was the weak side of the football last season, but that’s bound to happen when you deployed arguably the best offense in all of college football. Moving forward, Heupel believes the defensive side of the football will improve by leaps and bounds, as he explained Tennessee is ready to take the next step in stopping opposing offenses.
“We took a step in Year 1 to Year 2. You look at how we defended the run. Our success creating negative yard plays. Top two in the conference the year before. Had made some strides,” started Heupel, via 99.1: The Sports Animal’s Josh and Swain. “When I first got here, we were at 67 scholarship players that were counted. For the fall, I think we actually had 65 that were with us during the course of that fall. Most teams were at 95, because of COVID seniors that year. We were decimated by the transfer portal before we even had a chance to solve that problem. You know, currently we’ve added athleticism. We’ve added length. We have a lot more competition inside of our building, and certainly on the defensive side of the football. I expect us and our players expect to take another massive jump this year defensively in our productivity.
“At the end of the day man, the standard here is to win championships, but there’s been a lot of great defensive players that have come through here. The challenge for us is to go play elite defense, and I believe in who we have here in the building, coaches and players alike.”
In the SEC, offense will only get you so far. It’s the complimentary football that wins championships. We’ve seen it with both the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide in recent seasons, and it’s evident that’s the blueprint Heupel sees, as well.
Next season, Tennessee is undergoing a bevy of changes on the offensive side of the football, with star quarterback Hendon Hooker on to the next level, while backup Joe Milton looks to replicate the former’s impressive play. The possibility of growing pains looms large, so it’ll be important for the Tennessee defense to pick up some slack next season.
Josh Heupel believes they’re capable, but time will tell if the unit proves him right, or ultimately falters under the weight of great expectations.
The post Josh Heupel confident Tennessee defense is prepared to take next step appeared first on On3.