CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After 8:30 was chewed off the clock to start the second quarter, the West Virginia defense had Tennessee in a 4th and goal from the 2-yard line, and defensive coordinator Tony Gibson thought he had the perfect call lined up.
“We got that play off the Colorado State film,” Gibson said. Dylan Tonkery “had the fullback and he ended up being perfect, but he had to cover the fullback and the tight end because of a blown assignment.”
The Vols scored when tight end Anderson Wood was wide open in the back of the end zone following play-action roll out by quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. Although the execution wasn’t what Gibson wanted, his glimpse into the Colorado State playbook from last season helped him make the call. Tennessee assistant coach Will Friend joined coach Jeremy Pruitt’s staff this offseason and brought some offensive philosophy with him.
Not only that, but offensive coordinator Tyson Helton is in his first season in Knoxville after spending the last two years at USC.
It was a whole new offensive coaching staff for the Vols, which made it challenging for the West Virginia defense during the week of preparation.
“We have guys from Alabama, Georgia, USC, Colorado State and a whole bunch of places coming together and it’s hard, man,” defensive end Reese Donahue said. “It’s almost like studying for three different teams. With this first week, we’ve been preparing for a while and we saw a lot of stuff that we recognized and some stuff that they tweaked a little bit.”