A few days after bringing his team into Neyland Stadium on Saturday night and coming away pleased overall, Butch Jones had a different tone Wednesday night as the Vols wrapped up another situational scrimmage at Neyland.
“As a whole, I didn’t like our approach,” Jones said. “I thought we lacked intensity, gave up way too many big plays defensively – I didn’t think we came to play defensively. Too many pre-snap penalties on offense.
”Again, a lot of teaching moments, a lot of teaching opportunities. Some individuals are starting to distance themselves from the pack. We’ll go back tonight, grade the film and we’ll start to define people’s roles on this football team moving forward.”
Wednesday’s workout included as many game-like situations as possible. SEC officials were in attendance, the coordinators called plays from the booth and the Vols worked through plays just as they will this fall.
The short trip to Neyland seemed to energize the team on Saturday, according to Jones. He didn’t get that same feel this time around.
“I wasn’t particularly pleased with our overall intensity,” he said. “The last time we came in this great arena I could feel the intensity, I could feel the excitement, I didn’t feel it tonight. The shoulder responsibilities is our older players, our seniors, the few that we have, our veteran players, but it is everyone, it is everyone taking self-accountability for their actions and getting themselves ready to play.”
Quarterback update: With Jones saying on Monday that a quarterback could be named this week, antennas have been up for the potential announcement.
It didn’t come after the scrimmage on Wednesday night, though Jones said he might be getting closer.
“I’m hoping in maybe the next day or two we’ll make that decision,” he said. “I think it’s important for our football team moving forward that they know who the starting quarterback is. I’ve been pleased with all three individuals lately.
“They’ve done a very, very good job of handling the volume of the offense that we have, but more particularly taking care of the football and making great decision with the football, having command of the line of scrimmage. We’ll go back tonight. We’ve charted every single throw every quarterback has made in practice.”
Jones complimented Justin Worley, saying he sees his confidence “growing and growing.” He also had good things to say about Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman, saying they both did “great things” in the scrimmage setting.
Malone bounces back: Freshman receiver Josh Malone had a nice bounce-back night, according to Jones. The former 5-star recruit has had an inconsistent camp, losing first-team reps and struggling through some mental errors.
“He’s had a tough camp and I’m very proud of him,” Jones said. “He fought back. He’s been battling some injuries and I thought tonight, he really stepped it up. So it was very encouraging. Josh Malone is a very prideful individual. He expects to do great things and it’s a part of that maturity level when things don’t go quite as well or the way you plan it, which is life, how to you handle the next snap? How do you bounce back? And I thought he bounced back exceptionally well and was very proud of him tonight moving forward.”
• Jones said linebacker A.J. Johnson got a pretty full workload in the scrimmage. The senior has been held out some of this camp to keep him fresh and to give some younger linebackers more opportunities.
• Safeties Todd Kelly Jr. and Cortez McDowell also participated after sitting out of Saturday’s scrimmage.
• Jones also singled out Josh Smith, Von Pearson, Jason Croom and Pig Howard for making big plays on Wednesday.