KNOXVILLE - From the hiring of a specialist in the field to the signature of a mammoth nose tackle who fills a prerequisite, the indications are Tennessee is transitioning to a 3-4 defense.
Sal Sunseri insists otherwise.
The Volunteers' new defensive coordinator comes from a 3-4 background with the NFL's Carolina Panthers and Nick Saban at Alabama, but that defensive scheme won't be the only thing he runs at UT. As head coach Derek Dooley did last month, Sunseri said in his first media appearance on Wednesday that the Vols will use 3-4 formation, 4-3 fronts and plenty more.
"I like them both," he said. "But I'm going to tell you this, is that we've had tremendous success in the 3-4, and I know what people like to do and how to attack a 4-3. People are going to ask that and all that, but I've got to see the personnel and what we're able to do.
"I'm going to tell you this, when you guys are watching us, you're not always going to see us in a 3-4 and you ain't going to always see us in a 4-3. You're going to see multiplicity of fronts. It's harder to friggin' run the ball versus multiplicity than it is against a same front."
With almost an entirely new defensive staff and new scheme, the Vols essentially are starting at square one. The most earnest installation of the new defense will begin next month when spring practice starts. Until then, though, the coaching staff will evaluate the personnel at their disposal while players spend time watching film on what they'll be doing in the future.
"We're going to do what these kids can do," Sunseri said.
"It's been good. They're up here every single day wanting to meet, but right now with the time we're doing with the coaching staff, installing and getting done what we have to get done, it's interesting how many kids are now coming through the facility wanting to get extra time to study time."
Plenty more coverage from today's interviews with Tennessee's assistant coaches coming online and in print. Follow me on Twitter for more continuous updates.