Tennessee will end its short-lived tradition of playing “Third Down For What” for third-down situations on defense, Butch Jones told reporters during his Monday afternoon press conference.
The Vols started playing the variation of the Lil Jon song in 2014 to stress the importance of third-down defense.
While it’s had mixed reviews among the fanbase, there’s no question that the Vols have drastically improved their third-down defense, finishing second and first, respectively, the past couple years in opponent third-down conversion percentage after finishing 12th in the SEC in 2013.
Jones said they will play “various” songs for third-down defense, starting Thursday evening in the opener against Appalachian State.
• Jones said “as of now” that none of the three freshman offensive linemen – Nathan Niehaus, Marcus Tatum or Ryan Johnson – are game ready, but that could change in a matter of weeks, and acknowledged that there are situations that could dictate they be put in the game. Jones did single out Tatum as the one who seems to be the closest to being ready as of now. Jashon Robertson got some work at left tackle in practice, and center Coleman Thomas could move to tackle as well in a pinch, Jones said.
• Receiver Jauan Jennings, who has been practicing in a non-contact uniform, defensive tackle Shy Tuttle and recently-reinstated defensive tackle Alexis Johnson will all be available against App. State, Jones confirmed.
• In the kicking game, Jones indicated that kicker Aaron Medley will be the backup punter to Trevor Daniel. Jones also said that Medley has increased his consistency on field goals beyond 40 yards and has increased his leg strength on kickoffs as well.