Florida has a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator.
LSU has a new coach and a new defensive coordinator.
Ole Miss has a new head coach and two new coordinators.
Georgia has a new defensive coordinator.
South Carolina has a new head coach and two new coordinators.
Notre Dame has a new head coach and two new coordinators.
Kentucky has a new offensive coordinator.
``I haven’t seen that many changes at so many good programs, particularly early in the season,’’ Fulmer said.
``That could be a plus in that it’s early in the season. But it also is going to be a challenge for us to go back and study tapes from schools they came from. You try to study schemes at the school they came from and personnel at the present school.
``It’s a little bit more challenging, but nothing we shouldn’t be able to handle.’’
Before, during and after spring, Tennessee viewed a wide range of tapes. For Florida, the Vols looked at tape of Utah and Bowling Green – Urban Meyer’s two previous stops before going to Florida – and the Gators’ personnel.
For LSU, the Vols looked at tape of Oklahoma State, former home of Tigers coach Les Miles, as well as Oklahoma and Nebraska, the previous two stops of LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.
For Notre Dame, the Vols had to go pro, viewing film of the New England Patriots, where Charlie Weiss served as the offensive coordinator for several years.
It was an arduous work. But Fulmer believes Tennessee is up to the task.
Tennessee has by far the most veteran coaching staff in the SEC. John Chavis is the dean of SEC defensive coordinators with 10 years under his belt. Randy Sanders is the dean of SEC offensive coordinators with seven years under his belt. Chavis and Sanders each joined the UT staff in 1989.
The Vols’ four defensive coaches have been on the staff for a combined 43 years.
The five offensive coaches have been on the staff for a combined 32 years.
Is that an advantage for the Vols when they face the element of the unknown?
``Absolutely,’’ Fulmer said. ``Having the experience and stability we have on the staff should be a real strength for us.’’
David Cutcliffe, former Ole Miss head coach and Tennessee assistant, said it’s ``pretty special’’ to have coaches on the staff that long. ``Those guys know the answers. They know what to do when problems are presented.’’
Steve Caldwell, UT’s defensive ends coach for the past 10 years, said that could help immensely.
``No doubt about it,’’ he said. ``We’re all on the same page. We’ve been together a number of years. It’s made thing easier for us to make adjustments as the game goes on or as the year goes on. There’s not too much that can come up that we haven’t seen.’’
Florida and LSU will have a couple of games under their belt before playing Tennessee. That should help the Vols, defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell said.
``You won’t know if the personnel fits the new schemes until they line up in their first games,’’ Caldwell said. ``As the year goes on, they’ll be able to put more of their scheme in.
``You want to think it’s a plus that you’re playing Florida early because maybe they won’t have the opportunity to get everything in. But at the same time, we won’t have the opportunity to see as much of them by playing them early.’’
Caldwell said the spread option Meyer ran at Utah isn’t something Tennessee has faced very often.
``It’s almost coming back to the split veer or triple option out of the wishbone because of the many things they do,’’ Caldwell said. ``We haven’t seen a lot of that lately so it’s taken some time (in offseason preparation) and we’ll definitely spend a lot of time on it during two a days.’’
As much as UT studied during the offseason, the Vols don’t know for sure exactly what some teams will do.
``We have a general idea,’’ Sanders said, ``but it’ll be a wait-and-see game.’’