3. Can these new coaches have better chemistry?
One of the biggest problems on Tennessee’s defensive staff last season was lack of chemistry with new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. That, along with injuries, had a lot to do with why the Vols’ defense struggled so mightily in 2016.
Shoop reportedly had a big part in picking the two new defensive assistant coaches the Vols have brought in. Time will tell if Charlton Warren and Brady Hoke will have better chemistry with Shoop and if the defensive schemes will reflect that. But Shoop’s involvement bodes well for that.
Now the big question about chemistry shifts to the offensive side with an almost completely new offensive coaching staff.
Running backs coach Robert Gillespie is the only returning offensive coach to stay at the same position he coached in 2016. Larry Scott is still on staff and is still coaching tight ends, but he has much more responsibility as the Vols’ new offensive coordinator. And outside of Gillespie, Scott has a whole new set of voices to listen to.
Mike Canales and Walt Wells have been added to the offensive coaching staff, and Tennessee still has to hire a new wide receivers coach as well. It helps that Wells was here in a support role for the 2016 season and Scott has familiarity with Canales. But this will still be Scott’s first time as an offensive coordinator at the collegiate level, and the rapport he develops with his assistants is critical.
Chemistry was an issue for one side of the ball last year. Now both sides of the coaching staff will have to work on it before the 2017 season.