Tennessee's top 11 defenders couldn't stop anyone last fall, so new head coach Butch Jones is looking to give them some helpers this fall.
Around 100,000 helpers, actually.
"It's called 'fist-up' defense," sophomore linebacker Christian Harris explained. "When we come off the field after stopping the opponent on third down, we hold our fists up. Coach Jones is trying to get this thing together where the whole crowd does it. That will be pretty cool."
Pretty cool? Try pretty incredible. The prospect of 100,000 fans raising a fist in unison while cheering Vol defenders as they trot off Shields-Watkins Field is utterly mind-boggling. It could be Tennessee fans' version of Florida State fans' patented tomahawk chop. The excitement and decibel levels should combine to produce an amazing spectacle, especially in a big game against a quality opponent.
Senior linebacker Brent Brewer says the Vols thoroughly enjoy using the "fist-up" signal in practices and scrimmages.
"That's a great feeling," he said. "Every time we get a stop on third down everybody's excited, chest-bumping and having fun."
Imagine if 100,000 rabid fans joined in the celebration ...
"I cannot imagine that yet," Brewer said, grinning as he added: "But we'll see."
Senior defensive tackle Daniel Hood can imagine the spectacle, and he fully expects the experience to prove unforgettable.
"It's going to be incredible," he said. "We need to get every fan up there doing it. It's going to be something incredible. Teams coming in here, it's going to be an intimidation factor for 'em. They look up and see 100,000 people raising their fists up in the air, being proud of a defensive stop, oh ..."
He paused briefly, then shook his head before concluding, "It's going to be a mental thing to stop them."
The obvious question: Having suffered through five seasons of bad football, will Tennessee fans be enthusiastic enough to lift a fist in celebration of a simple stop?
"We're going to make sure we get everybody to do that," senior defensive tackle Maurice Couch said. "A lot of us are trending on social media to let fans and the rest of Vol Nation know."