The Tennessee Vols‘ offense seemingly receives all the attention for the improvements it made last season.

Tennessee’s defense, however, showed a lot of improvement as well last season.

That improvement didn’t necessarily show up statistically — the Vols’ had the No. 90 scoring defense last season compared to the No. 69 scoring defense in 2020 — but it showed up on film.

If you watch Tennessee’s defense last season, you saw a team that was more disciplined than they were the previous season. They didn’t look confused or out of sorts. The only reason they finished with a lower-ranked defense was because of the Vols’ fast-paced offense. The offense scored so much that it allowed more opportunities for opposing offenses to score. Tennessee’s defense was essentially the victim of circumstance.

Tim Banks is a major asset for the Vols

Vols defensive coordinator Tim Banks deserves a lot of credit for the job he did with the defense last season.

Part of the reason that Banks has been successful at Tennessee is his approach. He’s never comfortable — even if the defense is playing at a high level. Banks also has a sense of urgency that he’s instilled in the team. That sense of urgency is part of the Vols’ mantra on defense this season:

Love, trust, and urgency.

Defensive coordinator Tim Banks runs a drill during Tennessee football spring practice at the University of Tennessee, Thursday, March 24, 2022.

“It’s always an urgency (to find the best lineup of players),” said Banks on Sunday during a media session with reporters. “We talked about that a lot, just in terms of what our mantra is – love, trust, and urgency. I don’t think you can figure anything out of one practice. Obviously, you’ve got to continue to rotate guys in, continue to put guys in different spots, and see how they adjust to it. But yeah, shoot, we would like this thing to be figured out as quickly as possible so you can continue to game-plan and do some different things, but I think it’s going to be some really fierce battles. I really do.”

“I think guys that obviously played a lot of significant snaps coming from last year will have great confidence coming in, but we have some young guys that are itching to prove what they can do,” added Banks. “So I think it’s an exciting time for us on defense and UT in general. Like I said, we just can’t wait to get to work.”

That’s a perfect mantra for the Vols to live by — defensively and offensively.

Trust is critical to success. So is love. If players love their teammates, they’re going to go to battle with them every week. The urgency is also important. Patience can be important, but there always needs to be a sense of urgency to win, make a big play, etc.

It took a while for Tennessee to settle on Banks in early 2021 as the Vols’ defensive coordinator. There were several names ahead of him on “the list”. But Banks has proven to be a perfect fit at Tennessee.

Featured image via Saul Young/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services