Injury update: Butch Jones stopped short of guaranteeing that any of the players – offensive tackle Brett Kendrick, (knee, elbow), receiver Preston Williams (hamstring) or guard Jashon Robertson (ankle) – who missed the Alabama game will return at Kentucky this weekend, but did say he “anticipates” them being available, though it won’t be completely determined until later in the week.
Update 3:30 pm: WNML-FM radio in Knoxville has reported that Kendrick will be out the rest of the season. UT hasn’t confirmed that report as of Monday afternoon.
Of those three, Robertson has the best chance to play against the Wildcats, Jones said. He also noted that receiver Marquez North, who was able to play a few snaps at Alabama for the first time in several weeks, is still limited with his injury situation as well. Not including the limited work North got, the Vols played just five receivers at Bama. Jones said injuries at that position have required the receivers they have available to go the extra mile.
“We have been very, very limited at the wide receiver position,” Jones said. “I think it was about four or five weeks ago, everybody is saying you should only play three or four wide receivers, well you see why you can’t do that. We need to have 10. That’s why you develop them, that’s why we have to recruit a bunch in this recruiting class. But I give our receivers a lot of credit. They’re been warriors. They’re playing extensive plays, they’re giving great effort.”
No extra Berry…on offense at least: Many have asked recently why UT safety Evan Berry, who leads the nation in kickoff return average (38.7 yards per return), hasn’t received a look on offense with the Vols looking to generate more big plays on that side of the ball.
Jones said Berry could get more opportunities to see the field soon, but not in that capacity.
“Not right now,” Jones said when asked if he could see action on the offensive side of the ball. “We’re going to work Evan Berry in at safety. He’s had a couple really good weeks of practice, so we’ll get him some reps at safety.”
Sticking with Medley: Jones reiterated his stance that the kicking job will not be opened up after Aaron Medley missed three field goals (43, 51, 51) at Alabama and fell to the bottom of the SEC in season field-goal percentage (52.9%) over the weekend.
“No, Aaron Medley is our kicker,” Jones said when asked if the competition would be opened up. “We have great confidence in Aaron. He makes those kicks in practice and he’ll get those details corrected and we’re going to need him down the stretch as well.”
Jones familiar with Towles: Butch Jones knows a thing or two about the quarterback the Vols will be facing on Saturday because he tried to get him to join him when he was the head coach at Cincinnati.
“I am very familiar with Patrick Towles, being from right outside Cincinnati,” Jones said. “We recruited him at Cincinnati, and he was our number one target. We have a lot of respect for him. He is a winner. He comes from a great high school program. I think he is one of the best quarterbacks in our conference.”
Towles is 146-of-242 passing (60.3%) for 1,730 yards, good for an average of 247.1 yards per contest, which ranks fourth overall in the SEC. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound quarterback has three career games with 60+ rushing yards as well, showing he can pull it down and run in situations as well.
South Carolina game time set: The SEC announced that Tennessee will host South Carolina at 4 p.m. ET on Nov. 7 in a game televised by the SEC Network. It will be the second week in a row the Vols play on the SEC Network after UT takes on Kentucky this coming Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.