Tennessee first year defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh spoke to the Knoxville Quarterback Club on Wednesday, touching on the Vols’ performance against No. 3 Georgia and the emergence of leadership from a couple of players.
In a 44-21 loss to the Bulldogs last Saturday, the Tennessee defensive line had its share of moments, including a goal-line stand late in the second quarter that preserved a 21-17 halftime lead for the Vols.
“We talked about going out and being physical at the point of attack, being able to stop the run, put them in passing situations,” Brumbaugh said. “We got to a lot of third down situations. I was proud of the guys going back out. We had some things happen in the ballgame that we couldn’t control, but they went back out and answered. We held them on the goal line two separate situations. They had the turnover there. We went back on the field in the second half, held them to six points-those six points with those two turnovers.”
Despite falling behind the second half, Brumbaugh was pleased with the defensive line’s ability to keep playing regardless of the score.
“The guys kept fighting, clawing back,” Brumbaugh said. “They never gave up and that’s what I was really proud of them for.”
Through three games in the early-going of the 2020 season, Brumbaugh has noticed improvement from a number of players since taking over the position group this past offseason, but there are a pair of seniors that have stuck out the most.
“LaTrell Bumphus has done a real good job,” Brumbaugh said. “Him and Matt Butler, they’ve done a good job of understanding scheme, understanding what I’m asking for from them. And they’re leaders. They study tape. They come in and they tailor their tips and reminders. From that standpoint, it really helps them in the ballgame because you can see, watch things happen. Different situations, you can them, their alignment, just do different things. They’ve got another understanding of the game.”
Brumbaugh was also complimentary of Bumphus and Butler’s ability to stop the run and pass rushing.
“I’ve got two guys up front that I feel like they do what’s asked of them, and that’s LaTrell Bumphus and Butler,” Brumbaugh. “I think that they do a good job of really understanding the things and really make extra plays. You want to be able to make plays, like you’re fitting in your position and you’re helping the defense. But when you’ve got to be able to get off the block and go make an extra play, I think those two right now.”
While Brumbaugh praised Bumphus and Butler, a lack of reps, for now, seems to be the only thing standing in the way of other defensive linemen from tacking the next step.
“And some guys that have done a good job but just really haven’t gotten reps right now that are going to be good players,” Brumbaugh said. “Of course, ‘Big O,’ Omari Thomas. Elijah Simmons has done a good job in the middle, anchoring the point. So there’s been some guys in there that have really contributed and really, like I said, not given up and kept fighting.”
No. 18 Tennessee will take on Kentucky this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.