Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh and defensive coordinator Tim Banks met with the media Tuesday ahead of the Vols’ road trip to Kentucky.
Golesh discussed where Tennessee’s offense is at in relation to where he expected it to be at this part of the season. The first year coordinator likes where his team is at heading into the final month of the season.
“Offensively, I feel like situational football we’ve gotten better and better,” Golesh said. “I think last week (Alabama game) we hit a hurdle there. I think part of that is the opponent, I think part of it is just as a whole how we played. But I think situational football wise we’ve done a good job in terms of red zone, third down. I think the biggest things I was anxious about in August was, our offensive is in, how are we able to play situationally? I think for us to be successful here in these last four weeks, that’s got to continue to improve.”
Golesh also discussed his confidence in Hendon Hooker, the lack of depth at running back and how that effects Hooker and defenses faking injuries to prevent tempo.
“In a lot of ways, that is what defensive football has gotten to,” Golesh said. “Ten years ago, the tempo part wasn’t as big, and people didn’t have to have answers. Now, the tempo part is really big. Specifically, for us and how we play – and there are several other teams in our league that are in that boat – we have got to just reset and start it like we are P-and-10 and going from scratch. We have ways to create the illusions of tempo. You’ve seen us huddle and break it fast and do a bunch of different things with motions and things. It’s just part of the game. It’s a national headline at this point, but it’s part of the game.”
Banks discussed where his defense is coming out of the bye week in addition to his thoughts on Kentucky.
The first year defensive coordinator discussed his familiarity with Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. Levis was a backup quarterback at Penn State last season, the same school Banks was on staff at.
“Levis is a tremendous young man, really enjoyed my time around him,” Banks said. “Tremendous athlete, big, can run, super strong arm. He seems like he’s a lot more comfortable, in terms of throwing the ball. He’s always had a strong arm, but he seems to show more poise. I think that just comes with maturity in the more reps he’s gotten, but I’ve also thought he had a chance to be a really good player, an elite player. He’s obviously done a great job at Kentucky this season and helped those guys win a bunch games.”
With four games left on the schedule, Tennessee’s defense is second in the SEC in tackles for loss. Those tackles for loss have come from a multitude of players but senior defensive tackle Matthew Butler’s play has been critical to the success.
Butler’s 6.5 tackles for loss this season is tied for the second most on the team.
“I can’t say enough about Butler,” Banks said. “But again, what you see on Saturdays is what we see every day in practice. He’s relentless with his work ethic. He was the same way in the spring, he just wants to be good. It’s refreshing, because sometimes you have guys that are ultra-talented but don’t quite work at the level they need to work at. But, I think because of the way he trains and the way he takes care of his body, it’s allowed him to play a lot of reps”