Everything Tennessee DC Tim Banks Said Ahead Of Orange Bowl

Tim Banks

Tim BanksKNOXVILLE, TN – Tennessee DC Tim Banks. Photo By Caleb Jones/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks met with the media Tuesday to discuss the Vols’ bowl practice and Orange Bowl matchup with Clemson.

It was an up-and-down regular season for Tennessee’s defense that included impressive performances against LSU, Kentucky and Vanderbilt but also a costly abysmal performance against South Carolina.

Banks discussed Clemson’s offense, the development of young Vol defenders and much more Tuesday. Here’s everything the second-year defensive coordinator said.

More From RTI: Kentucky Lands Standout Transfer Quarterback

On Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik

“Just like most of their team, he’s really talented—strong arm, strong release. He’s played some reps. Obviously not the lion’s share the other kid (DJ Uiagalelei) did outside of the North Carolina game. He’s an athlete. We went back and watched his high school film. He’s a tremendous athlete, strong arm. He’s talented. I can see why he’s there and see why those guys are so high on him. We’ll have our hands full, but we’ve obviously played a ton of talented quarterbacks in this league, and he’s just the next guy up.”

On if there is a schematic difference with Cade Klubnik starting at quarterback for Clemson

“From that perspective, the sample size is small. When he was in there, whether it was the North Carolina game or some of the other games he got in late, it’s very similar particularly in the throw game and what they’ve asked him to do. He’s connected on a bunch of deep balls. They will run him. You just don’t know, but I think he’s capable of doing the same thing that (Uiagalelei) did. It’s just a matter of if they decide to use him that way.”

On Clemson running back Will Shipley

“I think he’s a really good player. He’s obviously young. Everyone that we’ve talked to that’s faced those guys already, they say that he’s better than advertised. You get in the game, he’s tough to tackle, has good vision, good balance and body control. Then you see it. He’s broke off a bunch of big runs against just about everybody he’s played. He’s definitely got our attention. We understand for us to be successful, we’ll have to do a really good job trying to contain him.”

On Will Shipley’s pass catching abilities

“He’s got really good hands. He’s a good athlete. Sometimes with the running backs, particularly the young guys, they’re kind of a one trick pony. They can run the ball but not very good in protection or not very good on the perimeter when they’re asked to catch the ball. He does both extremely well. He’s shown that he’s a tough guy that will block you on some pressures, and he’s obviously shown the ability to catch the ball on the perimeter and make guys miss. He’s definitely a really good athlete, and once again, you realize why he’s there.”

On his evaluation of the overall defensive performance during the regular season

“It’s hard to say exactly what it is. We kind of live from game to game. We obviously finished on a high note. We probably played some of the best football we played in the last game (at Vanderbilt). We understand there’s always work to be done. I’m proud of the guys, just the way they’ve competed with all the moving parts we’ve had on the back end. Just the way those guys constantly came in with a next-man-up mentality. Hopefully we can finish this season on a good note. There’s definitely some work to be done, but we’ll address that at the end of the season.”

On the development of younger player on the defense, such as Elijah Herring and Kalib Perry

“I think those guys have come miles. One of the things we are very conscious of is trying to get guys opportunities, particularly on special teams. I think if you talked to Coach Ekeler, he would say those guys were a part of our core on special teams and did a tremendous job, which breeds confidence. I think they’re close, I really do. If you asked me this six or seven weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say that. I like the direction they’re headed in. Both are tremendous athletes. Both guys want to be great, and they’re working at a pace that’s going to put them in line to be able to contribute, and contribute at a high level.”

On influence bowl practices have in evaluating players

“I think every opportunity is evaluated, and every opportunity is a chance to get better. Obviously, having a chance to go through bowl prep gives you a chance to invest and build some of that compound interest. I don’t know necessarily if it would change our minds, but it could reinforce that this kid is headed in the right direction based on the number of snaps that he’s gotten and how much better he’s gotten. Football is no different than life. The more you do some things, the better you get at it or the worse you get at it. If you practice the right way and you do things the right way, you’ll typically like the results. We have a lot of young guys on our defense that are really working hard and putting themselves in a position to be able to contribute. I think that’s a good thing to be happy about for the University of Tennessee.”

On the health of the defense

“I think as healthy as you can be at this time of the year. We’ve really been conscious to try to, at some positions, play as many guys as we can, particularly up front. I think that has bode well for us. We’ve been able to, for the most part, get those guys through. On the back end, just kind of out of necessity because of what transpired over the course of the year, we’ve played a ton of guys. I think guys are starting to get a little bit healthier. I think if you polled the country, this is a tough sport played by tough people. You have to find a way to fight through it to give yourself a chance to finish the season, and we’re no different.”

On Jeremy Banks being considered the emotional leader of the defense

“Jeremy (Banks) is obviously a talented player. I don’t think I could stand here and say that one guy is the difference between winning and losing. I will tell you, obviously he’s done a lot of good things for this university in terms of his play on the field, and we love it when he’s out there. As I’ve said since the beginning, it’s a next-man-up mentality, and the standard is the standard. We expect to be successful regardless of who’s in the game.”

On what Jourdan Thomas has shown on the defensive side of the ball

“Jourdan (Thomas) is a kid who’s very focused and driven. He’s a guy that understands how important practice is, and you see it in his play. He had a tremendous season in terms of his play on special teams. Like I said, that just breeds confidence. Is he exactly ready to go right this second? No, but I love where he is. I love the direction that he’s headed. I think he’ll be a guy that you guys are going to be happy to see this time next year, based on his body of work to this point.”

On if he enjoys having the long break between games

“Ask me that after the game. That’s probably a better answer. You just want to play football when you can. I’ve played in a ton of bowl games; the right time is obviously when you win it. We obviously are working our tails off to put ourselves in the best position to win it. Having time to heal sometimes is a plus. For us, I would say for this season and this particular team, I’m glad we have a chance to try and heal up some guys, get some guys a chance to get fresh and give us the opportunity to get ready for a really talented Clemson team.”

Author: Ethan Moore