By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
defensive coordinator John Jancek understands the magnitude of the job
ahead of him, even though recruiting demands have prevented him from
watching much tape of his new team's 2012 performances.
That much was evident from a glance at the statistics that indicate Tennessee had one of its worst defenses in school history.
"We've got some work to do," Jancek said. "I understand that."
allowed the most points (35.7) and yards (471.4) per game of any
Southeastern Conference team this season. The Vols hadn't allowed that
high a scoring average since 1893, when they gave up 42.7 points per
game while playing a six-game schedule. Tennessee hadn't given up that
many yards per game since at least 1950, the earliest year its sports information department has that statistic on file.
is aware of those struggles, but he isn't dwelling on them. He plans to
focus on the future rather than worrying about what went wrong under
the previous staff.
"We're not going to look back at last year,"
Jancek said. "We're going to be positive. We're going to identify our
needs, we're going to address issues, we're going to progress and move
Jancek, 44, has experience competing in the SEC and
working alongside new Tennessee coach Butch Jones. Jancek and Jones were
assistant coaches together at Central Michigan from 2003-04. Jancek
went from there to Georgia, where he coached linebackers from 2005-09
and worked alongside current Tennessee safeties coach Willie Martinez.
has spent the last three years working for Jones at Cincinnati. After
serving as Cincinnati's co-defensive coordinator in 2010-11, he became
the sole coordinator this year.
Cincinnati ranks 12th nationally
in scoring defense (17.17) and 41st in total defense (373.8) this
season. The Bearcats led the nation in tackles for loss and were second
in sacks in 2011 while ranking 20th in scoring defense (20.3) and 42nd
in total defense (357.4).
"He's a great teacher
of the game," Martinez said. "I think that's important. He relates to
the players really well. He's a fundamental coach, really good
recruiter. ... He knows the conference, and that's important."
The new staff already has begun making changes.
his introductory press conference Dec. 7, Jones announced the Vols
would utilize a 4-3 defense. Tennessee switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4
scheme in 2012 under former defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri.
has concentrated his recruiting efforts on finding defensive linemen
with the ability to thrive in a 4-3 system. Jancek also is looking for strong tacklers who can flourish in the physical defense he prefers.
"When people play Tennessee, they (should) know that they're in for a long day," Jancek said.
Jancek has spent so much time recruiting and evaluating prospects that he hasn't seen much of what the Vols did in 2012.
No. 1 right now," Jancek said. "We'll get to the film and start
preparing for spring ball once we get done with recruiting."
Those tapes reveal why the Vols must recruit more talent on defense.
A.J. Johnson ranked fourth nationally with 138 tackles as a sophomore
this fall, but the Vols otherwise lack playmakers. They recorded just 17
sacks this year, the lowest total in the SEC. Tennessee's lack of speed
in the secondary allowed touchdowns from just about anywhere on the
Tennessee expects to return 10 defensive players who made
at least six starts this year, though linebacker Curt Maggitt must
bounce back after tearing an ACL on Nov. 10. The Vols also welcome back
safety Brian Randolph, who was leading the team in tackles when he tore
his ACL on Sept. 15. They do have to replace departing linebacker Herman
Lathers and cornerback Prentiss Waggner.
"I don't worry about
that at all," Jancek said. "The biggest thing is that we need to get in
here and we need to get to work. With a good work ethic (and) guys that
are showing up every day with the right attitude, the confidence will
come. The confidence will come."