Why I’m Excited for the 2009 Tennessee Vols Football Season

Defense.

It’s simple, I am so ridiculously excited about our defense for next year. Let me start by pointing out a few defensive players that I think we will miss next year: DB DeAngelo Willingham, LB Ellix Wilson, LB Nevin McKenzie, DL Robert Ayers, and DL Demonte Bolden. Though we will definitely notice the absence of each and every one of those players, I only see Ayers and Bolden being drafted this April. With that out of the way, I’ll go ahead and bring up the good things.The first of these good things is Monte Kiffin with Eric Berry being a close second, but I believe bringing in Monte Kiffin as the Defensive Coordinator not only is extremely exciting in itself, but also adds to the excitement of having Eric Berry for at least one more year.

If there was really something that could launch this defensive unit to another level, it was adding Monte Kiffin to the staff. What a lot of people seem to not realize is that Tennessee already had one of the best defenses in the nation, which I will elaborate on later. So when we return our most dominating player in Eric Berry and bring in such a great defensive coach it makes me feel that we could have the best defense in college football next year. That’s not even mentioning the fact that we have 5-star cornerback, Janzen Jackson joining us, who is listed as the #2 defensive back coming out of high school this year by Rivals.com and they also have him as the most physical corner as well as the corner with the best ball skills. There are also five 4-star and seven 3-star defensive players being added to the team.

Monte Kiffin has already established himself as one of the best defensive minded coaches in football history. Eric Berry is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best defensive backs in college football history. After the 2007 season Berry was named SEC Freshman Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC and was a unanimous selection to the Freshman All-American Team. Following the 2008 season he was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a consensus 1st Team All-American. In his Freshman season he had 5 interception and 222 interception return yards which broke a 37-year old school record at Tennessee. During his Sophomore year, Berry led the nation with 7 interceptions. He had 265 interception return yards, rebreaking his school record and also breaking the SEC record for most interception return yards in a single season, but the most impressive thing is that after just two years Berry had totaled 487 interception return yards in his career, which broke the all time SEC record for most career interception return yards, the NCAA record is set at 501, which Berry will likely break with his next pick. Berry has also already earned a luandry list of awards, and you can be sure of it that Monte Kiffin will help him earn even more.

Let’s take a look at how the Tennessee defense did last year, as they were a lone bright spot for Volunteer fans.

Statistical Category Stat Rank
Total Yards Allowed 3162 3
Total Yards Allowed Per Game 263.5 3
Total Yards Allowed Per Play 4.1 3
Total TDs Allowed 20 4
Total Points Allowed 201 9
Total Points Allowed Per Game 16.8 10
Red Zone TD % 40 1
First Downs Allowed 195 5
Pass Yards Allowed 1925 3
Pass Yards Allowed Per Game 160.4 4
Pass Yards Allowed Per Attempt 5.8 10
Pass TDs Allowed 8 2
Rush Yards Allowed 1237 9
Rush Yards Allowed Per Game 103.08 12
Rush Yards Allowed Per Attempt 2.79 5
Rush TDs Allowed 6 2

Note that we ranked out of the top 10 in only one of those categories. It’s also important to keep in mind that these numbers are even more impressive than they seem at first glance when you take into account the fact that our offense was inept to the point of being flat out embarrassing and couldn’t stay on the field long enough to ever give our defense a break, or give them good field position to work with. We also never gave up more than 30 points in a single game, allowing more than 10 points in only 7 of our 12 games, and remember that this includes the 6 defensive and special teams touchdowns scored on us as well.

I’ll end this with a bold prediction: Tennessee will have the best defense in college football next year. Statistically teams like USC might have better numbers, but that will be because of the conference they play in. We also have eight home games in 2009 which should help the cause.

Let me know what you think in a comment, whether it be if you agree, disagree or think I’m flat out crazy for even having this high of hopes and expectations.

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3 Responses

  1. […] of February I’m writing posts about football on back-to-back days, the one yesterday being about my Vols. This post (if you couldn’t guess from the title) is about my Colts. Last year I wrote a post […]

  2. Your post warms my Big Old Orange heart!

    I’m not sure where the offense is heading in 2009… but with a stout defense, we should be able to stay within striking distance throughout the season.

    Thanks for all the defensive statistics and analysis.

    Go Vols!

  3. […] It’s all about offense. Yeah, yeah, yeah “defense wins championships.” Whatever. I don’t buy it. That’s bull. I’m a Tennessee fan. I know that without offense you aren’t going to win a prize in a box of cracker jacks. The 2008 Tennessee Volunteers. The worst season in school history. In school history! You know what the crazy part is? We had arguably the best defense in the country. Statistically we had the third best defense in the country, but when you factor in that our offense couldn’t stay on the field for more than three plays, and we had an extremely difficult schedule, the argument could be made that Tennessee had the best defense in the country. You can read all about how great our defense was by clicking here. […]

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