- Advertisement -

Tennessee Football: Vols’ system makes life hard for DB coach Willie Martinez

- Advertisement -

There are times that I feel a bit sorry for Tennessee Football defensive backs coach Willie Martinez. He has a very challenging job.

The third-year UT coach, who has coached college football for over 20 years, has probably never had as challenging of a job as he’s had at Tennessee. Forget about his stops at various other schools, like Georgia, Oklahoma and Auburn, and take a second to realize just how difficult his job is at Tennessee.

First, Martinez has to field a defensive backfield that is often times on its own since the Vols like to blitz as often as they do. That may change this season since Tennessee Football should be better on the defensive front and not have to send extra rushers quite as often, but it’s not going to change drastically. UT defensive coordinator Tim Banks isn’t going to alter his philosophy, which is based on disruption first and foremost. Therefore, Martinez just has to deal with it.

Martinez, who spoke with the media on Tuesday after practice, also has had to face the challenge of the Vols just not having elite playmakers in the secondary, other than Alontae Taylor, who was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. If the Vols have another high-round draft pick on their roster, he hasn’t shown that ability just yet. Now would be a good time to do so for Martinez’s stress level, if nothing else.

One gets the feeling that Tennessee’s coaches are all on the same page when it comes to giving up yards. That must add to Martinez’s frustration. Due to Tennessee’s high-tempo offense, the Vols put a ton of stress on their defense and seem okay with that. The Vols were last in the SEC in time of possession in 2022. That means there’s not a lot of time for Tennessee’s defenders to get some rest. However, it has also been clear that the Vols have simply not been great in the secondary. That must weigh on Martinez’s mind. So should his contract. 

- Advertisement -

Martinez, according to Pro Football Focus (link – https://footballscoop.com/news/tennessee-dishes-raises-to-five-assistant-coaches-sets-staff-salaries-for-2023-season), is the only Tennessee Football coach to not have a contract that runs beyond this season. He got a raise when UT re-upped with the current staff in February. However, his raise of $75,000, wasn’t anything to crow about. So, either Heupel likes to save money on his defensive backs coaches, isn’t particularly happy with Martinez or the 60-year-old coach is close to retirement by his own choice. Whatever the case, this season should be quite telling as to what direction both parties want to go.

Tennessee Football could slow things down on offense and make things much easier for Martinez and UT’s defense. The Vols aren’t going to play ball-control on offense, but a couple of more deliberate drives that took some time off the clock seemed to be in play towards the end of last season. 

There are a few things that would make me feel less sorry for Martinez. Finding an elite talent amongst his current group of players would be the most prominent. More linebackers dropping into coverage to help out would be another. And, of course, there’s that time of possession thing. Here’s the problem: none of those things might happen in 2023. If that’s the case, then Martinez might be looking for another job.

I’m certainly not saying that Martinez should be fired. I’m not putting any of the blame on him, even though maybe I should. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. If I’m Martinez, I’m not sure that I want the challenges that come with a Heupel offense and a Banks defense.

- Advertisement -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *