There’s no doubt the Tennessee Vols are going to have some staff shakeups this offseason if Jeremy Pruitt returns as the program’s head coach in 2021.
I recently detailed several moves that Pruitt should consider making after the season to make the Vols a better team next year.
One of the biggest things Pruitt needs to do is find a better defensive coordinator. That should be near the top of the list (right after firing quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke).
I like current defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley, but he just isn’t getting the job done (UT is No. 80 in the nation this season is scoring defense). And I think it’s because he’s a first-time defensive coordinator who’s working for a first-time head coach that specializes in defense.
Pruitt needs a defensive coordinator who has experience. He needs someone that won’t be constantly looking over their shoulder.
Former South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, someone who Pruitt has known for a long time, would be the top option. But he’ll be a hot commodity as a defensive coordinator and likely have his choice of jobs.
Another option that Pruitt should consider is recently ousted Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason.
I’ve always been a fan of Mason. I love his intensity and I think he’s an incredibly classy guy. He’s not a typical “Pruitt hire” (Mason isn’t from the Nick Saban coaching tree), but I think that could actually be a good thing for Tennessee.
Whatever the Vols are doing right now isn’t working. They need some fresh ideas/viewpoints. Continuing to hire guys that come from the same background isn’t always a wise move.
Mason is a smart guy when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. He served as Stanford’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013 and was very successful.
In 2013, the Cardinal’s defense was ranked No. 10 in the nation.
Mason was hired as the head coach at Vanderbilt in 2014 and found some moderate success in a tough situation.
In 2015, Mason called the defensive plays at Vandy. The Commodores had the No. 22 scoring defense in the nation that year (impressive considering it’s Vanderbilt).
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason was JUICED after the Commodores downed no. 22 Missouri 😡😡
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 19, 2019
This is exactly what Tennessee needs. Having someone like Mason lead the defense (and the secondary) would allow Pruitt to take more of a CEO role with the team.
Pruitt needs to let go of the reigns a bit when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. Mason is a coach that’s familiar with the SEC (he’s also familiar with recruiting in the state of Tennessee) and could easily lead the Vols’ defense.
Featured image via Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports/Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports