Tennessee head coach Butch Jones confirmed on Monday that senior defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt will miss “an extended period of time” with a hip injury suffered during Saturday night’s loss to Oklahoma.
Maggitt missed a portion of the first half and the entire second half of the Oklahoma game.
“It’s just a true freak injury,” Jones said. “It’s probably the [most] freakish injury that I have ever been a part of. We were in punt safe, and he went to avoid a guy and hurt his hip. That is unfortunate, and we all know what Curt means to us, not only from a leader standpoint and a character standpoint but from a productivity standpoint as well. I will know a little more on his status as the week moves forward.”
Freshman defensive end Kyle Phillips, in addition to Corey Vereen, who took Maggitt’s place on Saturday, are expected to see more reps going forward. Jones also said he saw good things out of Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle at defensive tackle and wants to give them both more reps going forward as well.
Jones also confirmed that safety LaDarrell McNeil (neck) is fully cleared to return to practice and is expected to play against Western Carolina Saturday after missing the first two games. Running back Ralph David Abernathy IV and S Max Arnold remain out for Western Carolina. There’s also no change of status for starting defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, who was indefinitely suspended prior to the Oklahoma game.
Florida game time set: The Vols will play the Gators in Gainesville at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 26 on the SEC on CBS Game of the Week. Here’s the rest of the schedule for that week, which was released by the SEC early Monday afternoon.
Tennessee at Florida will be the 3:30 pm ET CBS game pic.twitter.com/QMRLjFqfaJ
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) September 14, 2015
Taking responsibility: Jones came out quickly and took responsibility for Saturday’s loss, one that was extremely tough for Vol fans to endure after Tennessee blew its largest lead ever in Neyland Stadium in the loss.
“I want to start off, first and foremost, as a head football coach – I am responsible for the losses, and I take responsibility,” Jones said. “Everyone in our football program was extremely disappointed, and everyone in our organization needs to continue to improve and learn from the experiences that we had from not only Saturday night but to the week leading up to it in our effort and our preparation. We must continue move forward and make great strides.”
Jones was asked about a few of the issues that have been brought up in the heart-breaking loss. On the decision to kick a field goal on the opening drive from the 1-yard line instead of going for it, Jones said they were looking for points and that their “analytics” pointed to that decision.
On the decision to use Alvin Kamara instead of Jalen Hurd from the 1 on the prior play, Jones said that Hurd was winded after several carries that drive and they had great confidence in Kamara to get the yard, especially since the play had a designed cut in it, which suits Kamara’s skill set, per Jones.
Getting Kamara going: Week 1 breakout star Alvin Kamara was virtually a no-show against the Sooners, getting just four carries for four yards and making one catch for five yards. Jones said the Vols were looking to get him more involved, but were unable to do so.
“Alvin’s healthy, and we would have liked to give him the ball more,” Jones said. “We had some designed throws to get him the football, not only in the run game but in the passing game as well. Sometimes, the defensive front or the pressure looks dictated whether or not he was getting the football. Every game has a storyline in and of itself. It has a different flavor, and Jalen [Hurd] was running the ball well. He was running behind his pads, and it was kind of his style of game.”