What you need to know from Butch Jones’ press conference on Monday as the Vols move on from a loss to Arkansas and look forward to divisional rival Georgia on Saturday…
Injury update: Butch Jones updated the status of two players who left the game early on Saturday – offensive lineman Dylan Wiesman and defensive end Kyle Phillips. Jones said “we’ll see” about Wiesman, but did say tests were encouraging and that the junior starting right guard did not sustain a high-ankle sprain and would be available to practice this week, though Jack Jones and/or Mack Crowder will be ready to fill in there if needed. Phillips (shoulder) will miss the Georgia game and Jones is hopeful that he’ll be able to return after the bye week when the Vols travel to Tuscaloosa on Oct. 24.
Jones “fully anticipates” WR Marquez North being able to go this week after being scratched from last week’s game with lower back stiffness. WR Pig Howard, who hasn’t played since the Western Carolina game, is “still suffering the effects of a concussion” and has not passed concussion tests yet. Jones didn’t give a specific game status for Howard, though it doesn’t sound promising that he’ll play this week based on those comments.
Quarterback update: Jones gave no indication that Joshua Dobbs is in any danger of losing his job or any significant reps, but did say he would like to get backup Quinten Dormady some opportunities if the situation dictates it.
“Yeah we would still like to continue to progress and get him in,” Jones said. “Quinten has done some very good things, and just his overall command like I’ve talked about before of the offense. A lot of times it’s just where the game is and how it dictates, but he has earned our trust.”
Dormady made late appearances against Bowling Green and Western Carolina with the outcome of those games well decided, but has not been utilized in any tight games thus far in 2015. He’s 6-of-9 passing for 93 yards and a TD in his limited opportunities.
Jones said he was pleased overall with the play of Joshua Dobbs and his aggressiveness in the passing game. Dobbs finished Saturday night’s game 20-of-36 for 232 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
“Do we need to continue to progress and get better? Absolutely,” Jones said. “But, I see [Dobbs] being aggressive, but we have to continue to execute as well. I have been pleased with that part of it.”
Jones comments on altercation rumor: When asked about to comment on a rumored physical altercation in practice, Jones gave a concise answer.
“Absolutely ridiculous,” he said, with no further comment on it.
Meeting with upperclassmen: Following the game Saturday, Jones said he would be meeting with older players on the team to discuss leadership and keeping the team on track despite a 2-3 (0-2 SEC) start.
“Very encouraged; this is a very resilient group, it’s a prideful group,” Jones said. “They are very realistic, they understand. The message was very, very simple, I always talk the truth, I speak the truth. The truth of the matter is we are a good football team. We’ve lost to three very, very good opponents. We’re seeing that now, over a period of time we’re seeing that. What are we 11 points away, but what are we doing to gain those 11 points. It’s the consistency in performance, it’s the focus, the fundamentals, the eye discipline. All those things we can control. I want our players to understand that we are a good football team and it’s a long football season ahead of us.”
Jones also added that he sees the Vols improving week-in and week-out as the season goes on, even though the scoreboard hasn’t indicated it. Turnover margin, penalties and special teams are three areas he said he’s been particularly pleased with.
• Jones on resiliency/loyalty: “I hurt along with everyone, but just like in life, you have to get up. In these times, you really find out who is with you and who is against you. You just write it down, put it in your back pocket and file it away for future reference. We are going to be fine. We have a resilient group of kids. We are going to continue to make progress and move forward.”
• The Vols plan to wear their Nike Smokey gray uniforms on Saturday against Georgia.
• Jones on Georgia’s offense: “We understand the depth that they have at running back in Nick Chubb and the entire running back core. They have very big, strong, veteran offensive lineman. They have good receivers. All the quarterback has to do is manage the football game. It is going to be a great challenge against a great football team coming in here on Saturday.”
And defense: “They play a number of guys up front. Really, that is what you look at when you look at a program. How many guys do they play on the defensive line? They play a number of individuals. They have the luxury of being very, very deep there. They have a great line backing core. That is shown with the top prospects in our conference, and then they have a very talented secondary that gives you multiple looks, so they do a great job schematically.”
• Jones on how the staff needs to coach better: “I think, first of all, it’s holding our players responsible to a high level, a high standard of excellence in terms of fundamentals and the small details of what it takes to play winning football consistently. It all starts with fundamentals. The fundamentals of the game of football never change – blocking, tackling, executing our systems. That’s on us as coaches, to make sure that we hold them accountable. We practice it, and they understand that from day one. Our players will do that. They want to learn. They want to get better.”