Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks talked to local media Tuesday morning following the team’s daily practice.
Here are three things we learned.
Banks ‘pleased with the depth’ developing at linebacker
The status of the linebacker room has been a cause for concern among Vols fans for much of this offseason. Banks began his press conference Tuesday addressing the current situation of the room.
“The biggest thing we have right now is depth (at linebacker),” Banks said. “Overall, we are pleased with the depth that we are developing.”
Currently, Jeremy Banks is the only linebacker on Tennessee’s roster that has viable experience against SEC offenses. Despite this, Texas transfer Juwan Mitchell and a myriad of talented athletes further down the depth chart seem to provide the depth Banks is shooting for as week one draws closer.
A good portion of that depth is young and unproven, but the talent is certainly there. Aaron Willis, Tennessee’s highest rated signee in the 2021 class, should see some playing time at outside linebacker sometime this season alongside practice standouts Solon Page III and Aaron Beasley.
Newcomers turning heads in practice
Banks has voiced his concerns in the past at the depth present across the rest of the defensive unit. According to Banks, some transfers are turning heads in practice to help alleviate some of those concerns.
Juwan Mitchell was the first that Banks commented on.
“He's a go-go guy. Works extremely hard. He's a football player, loves to play,” Banks said. “We're excited to see what he does on Thursday.”
Banks spoke on Alabama transfer Brandon Turnage and Auburn transfer Kamal Hadden next.
“They're still fighting and pushing and clawing and scratching. We're pleased that they are here. They will carve out some sort of role.”
Both Turnage and Hadden will provide necessary depth at defensive back this season, boosting a position group that had its fair share of struggles last year.
Pass rush ‘still a work in progress’
Banks also reported on the lack of a consistent pass rush in Tuesday’s press conference.
“As far as pass rushers go, it’s still a work in progress,” Banks said Tuesday. “We feel like we have some guys up from that have taken some strides in that way, but we also feel like we need to generate more pass rush.”
Kansas transfer Da’Jon Terry and sophomore edge Tyler Baron have the intangibles necessary to contribute in the pass rush this fall, the question is whether or not they will when the season kicks off.
Banks described how Terry plays with one word on Tuesday: “Power.”
“He’s a kid who wants to do right and wants to be great,” Banks said.
While pass rush is a concern for Banks, the understanding of the defensive scheme seems to be setting in for the defense as a whole. Banks indicated that he noticed significant difference now compared to spring practice.
“I feel good in terms of the grasp they have on the defense,” Banks said. “At the end of the day, I feel really good about what we are doing.”