Just about every sports media outlet in the country picked Alabama to beat Tennessee in their annual rivalry matchup. And several of them even likened the Vols to a lamb being led to the slaughter.
But that wasn’t the case whatsoever on Saturday as the Volunteers more than held their own against the eighth-ranked Crimson Tide on their home turf.
In fact, you could even argue that the Vols would have won the game had a few things gone differently – specifically with the field-goal unit as sophomore kicker Aaron Medley missed on all three of his attempts Saturday.
But despite Medley’s struggles, Tennessee Coach Butch Jones insists he is still their guy.
“First of all, I love Aaron Medley” said Jones. “We believe in Aaron. He is our kicker. Those were difficult kicks as well, especially on the road.”
Medley is now just 9/17 (52.9%) on the year, barely making half of his attempts all season and last among qualifying SEC kickers in percentage of made field goals; which has been something of a surprise after going 20/26 in 2014 and being named an Honorable Mention Freshman All-American by Campus Insiders.
After the game was over, senior offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson refused to allow Medley to take the blame for the loss and insisted the entire team should have been better.
“If the offense would have kept the drive alive, he wouldn’t even have to kick it,” said Kerbyson. “If you think of it like that, it’s never one guys fault. Medley’s just got to stay confident in himself. If he were to get down from this game, he’d let this game affect his other games and we can’t have that.”
Three missed field goals is a lot for any team to overcome, especially against one of the best teams in college football. But to put the blame solely on Medley wouldn’t be fair considering there were 59 other minutes of football where he wasn’t even on the field.
And even though he has had a frustrating season thus far, Jones says Medley is in no danger of losing his job any time soon.
“Absolutely he hurts because he is a competitor and he is a great key player,” added Jones. “But like I told the team, we win together and we lose together. That’s part of being a family. Those were very difficult kicks but there isn’t any other kicker that I want instead of Aaron.”