This time last year, Bob Shoop was the most talked about new addition to Tennessee’s coaching staff. Shoop and Larry Scott were hired last offseason to fill vacancies at defensive coordinator and tight ends coach respectively. Shoop’s hire fired up the fan base, and expectations for his defense were sky high.
Then injuries and chemistry issues happened, and the Vols defense broke records in a bad way.
Tennessee’s secondary got torched against South Carolina and Vanderbilt while the rushing defense was ripped to shreds by Texas A&M, Alabama, Kentucky, and Missouri.
All in all, Shoop’s first year as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator didn’t go as planned. And that led to changes being made to his staff this offseason. Charlton Warren was added as defensive backs coach and Brady Hoke as defensive line coach. But despite all the changes, Shoop says he feels more comfortable entering his second season with the Vols.
“Experience is the greatest teacher,” Shoop said after practice on Thursday. “I’m not looking around trying to figure out if I’m in the right spot, if is this the right drill, or if this is how coach (Butch Jones) wants this to be done. I kind of have an understanding of how things are run.”
Shoop not only has developed more of a rapport with head coach Butch Jones, but he already feels more comfortable with the newest additions to his staff. Shoop said that change can “sometimes cause anxiety” but that hearing the perspectives from both Charlton Warren and Brady Hoke has been “kind of refreshing.”
“Warren has done an outstanding job and has fit right in to our culture,” Shoop stated. “Brady has a tremendous amount of experience. He has been a great mentor and has really helped me out personally and is doing a great job as a leader and mentor to our players up front, on the defense, and on the whole team.”
The comfort Shoop has around his new additions is especially impressive considering Shoop didn’t even know who one of his new assistants was before he was hired at Tennessee.
“I’d never heard of Charlton,” Shoop said of his new defensive backs coach, “but he’s a very impressive person. He’s an Air Force Academy graduate obviously, and he can really be successful in anything he wants to do. He’s been a great role model and mentor to our defensive back group. He’s made a real impact on the program.
“I consider (Warren) a good friend and a great colleague. ”
Although he knew nothing of Warren, Shoop did have past experience with Brady Hoke. He even saw Hoke’s tactics firsthand.
“I certainly knew who Brady was,” Shoop stated. “When I was at Penn State in 2014 we played him at Michigan. He has a tremendous amount of experience. Both have been unbelievable additions to this staff and I’m really glad they’re here.”
When coaching staffs get shaken up, it can sometimes lead to chemistry issues and a clash of philosophies. But it can also be just what a coordinator needs to find the success he’s been looking for. And for Shoop heading into his second year as the Vols’ defensive coordinator, he believes the latter is what will happen this season.
“Any time you bring new people in the room, especially with the quality of their experience and intelligence level, it will create a great dialogue,” Shoop said. “They’ve challenged our thoughts, mine and (Coach Thigpen’s). I’ve really enjoyed working with (Warren) and Brady.”