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What Tennessee Players Said About Defensive Breakdowns Against South Carolina

Omari Thomas
KNOXVILLE, TN – September 24, 2022 – Defensive lineman Omari Thomas #21 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Florida Gators and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Emma Corona/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee’s “bend-but-don’t-break” defense fell apart last Saturday during the loss to South Carolina on the road. While the Vols’ defense has never been the strength of the team under Josh Heupel, the defense has typically pulled through when Tennessee needed it most this season.

A lack of focus and a lack of energy didn’t do Tennessee any favors on Saturday night. But as the players have said throughout the week, the main issue that they saw was a lack of execution causing missed assignments.

Tennessee defensive lineman LaTrell Bumphus started the conversation immediately after the game on Saturday, which was then expanded upon in Monday press conferences from linebacker Aaron Beasley and defensive lineman Omari Thomas. All three players said that practice was good throughout the week and there wasn’t any expectation of a collapse before the game. At the end of the day, according to the players, it was about execution, execution, execution.

Fortunately for Tennessee, though, the Vols still have chances to bounce back and wash the bad taste out of their mouths. The No. 10 Vols will travel west to Nashville this weekend for a matchup with a surging Vanderbilt team.

More from RTI: Kirk Herbstreit Predicting Vanderbilt To Upset Tennessee

Here’s what all three players have said about the defense last Saturday:

DL LaTrell Bumphus – Postgame Saturday

On any signs during practice of this game not going as expected…

“I don’t recall anything. I thought we had a good week of practice. I just think we didn’t come out perform the way we expected to.”

On Spencer Rattler’s big night…

“At times I think we lacked getting pressure back there at ’em. And when you have all day to throw, sometimes it tends to be a lot easier.”

On why they weren’t able to get pressure against S.C. …

“I don’t think it was nothing different, everything that they did out there in the game, we practiced it. I just think we did a bad job of coming out there, executing, and taking advantage of the moment.”

On what Tennessee was trying to adjust throughout the game…

“I think the biggest key was just bringing some more energy. A lot of times it seemed like we were playing in slow motion out there and we didn’t really have any juice. But, you know, really I think the biggest thing was just making the corrections on our missed assignments and things like that.”

LB Aaron Beasley – Press Conference Monday

On Tennessee defensively against South Carolina…

“Biggest thing was just execution. We didn’t execute the calls we should have executed. Just, in my opinion, the urgency, man, to start a game, we didn’t have enough urgency. We thought we were going to come in there and, just, you know, if things were going to fall where it was supposed to. But it doesn’t work like that in college ball. I think that was the biggest thing – the execution and urgency wasn’t there.”

On not being able to change the momentum with a big play or stop throughout the game…

“I guess we just didn’t realize at the time what was going on. I don’t know, the biggest thing was we weren’t executing the calls we have been executing all year. [South Carolina] didn’t do anything spectacular, anything abnormal. We didn’t do what we were supposed to do at the end of the day.”

On fixing the defense’s mentality going into the Vanderbilt game…

“We just got to go back to the drawing board. This really just shows how much we actually love the game, how much we actually love our job. Go out there, change the script again, try to end the season on a good note.”

DL Omari Thomas – Press Conference Monday

On what happened during the loss against South Carolina…

“Just going back and getting the chance to watch the film, we saw that we didn’t execute well. We didn’t really focus on the small details that we normally hone in on. We just really didn’t execute well as a defense.”

On if there was a shift in mentality during practices that led to the loss against South Carolina…

“Honestly, I feel that this past week we actually had a good practice. I feel like everybody was locked in for real. Everybody came in and was trying to get better as the week went on and was focused on the small details. Just different things we were seeing, we literally saw in practice, we just didn’t execute in the game. We saw it on film, it was just different things like that. It was just a bad day for us. As far as practice goes, I felt like we were locked in and had good practices the whole week. We were ready to go out there and play, honestly. It just didn’t click for us that game.”

Watch each of the aforementioned press conferences below:

DL LaTrell Bumphus

LB Aaron Beasley

DL Omari Thomas

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  1. Let’s see the defense play like they should and not look so lazy and look like they laidback!! We should have been so far ahead that Hooker should never have had to be in the fourth quarter!!

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