This might be a good time to lay off of Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks.
Banks would be the first to admit that he didn’t have a great day against South Carolina. His team gave up 63 points and over 600 yards to a South Carolina offense that looked like it couldn’t take a snap in previous games. Against the Vols, South Carolina’s offense looked like, well, the Vols.
South Carolina threw the kitchen sink at Banks and Tennessee when the Gamecocks had the ball. You name it, South Carolina ran it. The Vols were trying to make the College Football Playoff. South Carolina was playing in their Super Bowl. Still, that’s no excuse for Banks’ defense to simply not show up on Saturday. Well, there’s one.
How about this? The Vols were without their most electric defender and a player that has been a part of more aggressive game plans in the past. Sure, the Vols lost linebacker Jeremy Banks’ production against South Carolina after an alleged NIL incident with Hendon Hooker. However, the Vols lost much more.
Tennessee lost the ability to run different looks up front. The Vols are not good enough in the secondary to match many teams in the SEC. That’s why Banks has utilized twists and stunts repeatedly this season in which players loop around others in hopes of confusing opposing offensive fronts. Those manuevers are great as long as everyone is on the same page. They can be really, really bad when there’s not proper communication up front and a huge hole opens up. Without Banks, that was much more likely to happen.
Tim Banks entered the game with his hands tied. He entered the season hamstrung. Tennessee’s defensive backs are limited physically. Now, feel free to say that Tennessee’s players should be developed more this season. That’s fair. However, the Vols have also had to shift players around because of injuries and a suspension. Simply put, Tennessee’s secondary wasn’t ever going to be good this year and it was further challenged along the way.
Let’s also take into account that several players surely sided with Jeremy Banks in an alleged Banks-Hooker tilt, especially defensive players. Were they as amped as usual without one of their emotional leaders? It didn’t look like it.
More than anything, keep this in mind: Tim Banks has a rather thankless job and, if he stays at Tennessee, that’s probably not going to change until at least 2024.
There are not a lot of defensive coordinators lined up to take Banks’ job. Who wants to put together a defense when your offensive counterparts are running a million plays per game.
If you can put aside a dysfunctional showcase against South Carolina, then it’s easy to see how Banks is a perfect fit for the Vols. Tennessee averaged 22 points allowed per game before the South Carolina game. The Vols are third in the SEC with 6.6 tackles per loss – even after the South Carolina game.
If you want to judge Banks, eviscerate him on social media and see him eventually leave, go for it. Fans have run off a coach for what happened on Saturday, but take some context into account.
The Vols are in a very precarious position. Their recruiting has ramped up. They’re the talk of the nation. There should be good times ahead. However, if the Vols undergo a massive coaching upheaval, then things could change dramatically.
The Vols have seen that before. Following the 2011 season, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox left head coach Derek Dooley’s staff along with other assistant coaches. Following the 2016 season, there was another mass exodus of coaches, led by Mike DeBord, who took a similar job at Indiana.
Banks has, and will continue to have more options, because he’s a good coach. He’s just stuck in a tough situation. Tennessee fans don’t need to make it worse.