The dust has settled from Tennessee’s offensive coordinator search, which officially ended on Feb. 6 when the Vols hired long-time college and NFL coach Mike DeBord, also a long-time friend of Butch Jones, to run the offense after the departure of Mike Bajakian to the NFL.
The players have now had some time to spend with DeBord and are finding that that their first impressions paint a slightly different picture than what they expected.
“He’s a really cool guy,” said rising senior left tackle Kyler Kerbyson at VFL Career Development Day recently. “When I heard him coming in and I knew he was a little bit older than most of our coaches, I thought stickler, you know, hard-nosed kind of guy, but he’s really cool with us and he likes to joke around, but be serious at the same time.”
Kerbyson was also relieved to see that – in many ways – it will be more of the same under DeBord in terms of the terminology and the overall goals of the offense. Butch Jones emphasized in DeBord’s introductory press conference that he wasn’t bringing him in to overhaul anything, rather to “enhance” the offense.
“I wanted an individual who could come in, understand our terminology system, understand our coaching staff, and look to enhance our offense, not rebuild our offense,” Jone said. “Our offense does not need to be rebuilt. It needs to be enhanced. I think a lot of people don’t understand. It takes continuity, it takes consistency to win.”
“(DeBord’s) not trying to change so much of our stuff, which is really great,” Kerbyson said.
Marcus Jackson, another rising senior on the offensive line, had similar impressions as Kerbyson – adding that communication appears to be one of DeBord’s strong strengths so far during offseason work.
“Very smart guy,” Jackson said. “Very intelligent coordinator and he understands what he’s doing and knows how to communicate it very well. He talks to everybody a lot, Coach DeBo has been helping us out and says we can come in his office anytime, and he’s a very approachable guy, a very likeable guy, like I said.”
Officially listed as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, it’s no secret that DeBord will also have a big hand in helping out in all aspect of the offense – particularly the line – where he has over a dozen years of coaching experience just as an O-line coach before becoming a coordinator and later a head coach at Central Michigan.
Kerbyson noted that DeBord has been an extra pair of eye on the offensive line as it tries to take the next step this offseason and that his background in that area should help it have more success.
“It puts an extra eye on us,” Kerbyson said. “Coaching, you have to be able to take it, and if you have two guys coaching you instead of just one with Coach (Mahoney), then it’s all the better. And with his offensive line background he realizes certain plays will work better than others with the guys he has, which is great.”