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We got many questions asking about Butch Jones’ future, if UT should look in a different direction and/or what Jones needs to correct, etc…
Daniel: It’s pretty simple overall. This team, after the loss to South Carolina, is now going to fall short of expectations this season in all likelihood. The only scenario I can see changing that is if UT wins out, makes it to Atlanta and then wins the SEC Championship Game.
Regardless, Butch Jones isn’t going anywhere right now. I think he could lose out this year and still be safe – I really do. Dave Hart isn’t going to make that kind of decision on his way out the door. He’s going to leave it to the new AD, who essentially will give Jones a 1-to-2 year audition. If he/she likes him and the Vols are able to win big, Jones will be fine. If the team regresses next year, I think he’s gone because the AD will want to get his/her own person in there.
Some changes clearly need to be made this offseason. I’m more concerned about the offense than the defense. No, Bob Shoop hasn’t been masterful this year, but you simply can’t deny that injuries have absolutely decimated that side of the ball. Offensively, this unit could’ve been a juggernaut, but it only lived up to its potential sporadically. Yes, injuries affected this side of the ball as well, but not to the same level as the defense. There’s no tangible progress at quarterback, offensive line or tight end, and all that has to be addressed.
Nathanael: As Daniel said, this season is now a disappointment unless, by some miracle, the Vols not only win out the regular season, but also win the SEC Championship Game. Backing into the SEC East title would relieve some of the pain for fans, but it still isn’t the same as controlling your own destiny and having minimal help to get there. Because right now, the Vols need a lot of help for it to happen.
How do you fix the things that have plagued you so far this season? For one, open up the playbook. That’s been one of the main issues on offense. The defense just kinda is what it is right now with the injuries they’ve had. The offense can help them out by staying on the field longer, though. And the discipline issues with all the penalties and turnovers? Not sure how to fix them at this point. We’re eight games in and they’ve been in a problem in all eight games. This team is just undisciplined.
And as for Butch: He’s not gone after this year. Barring a devastating end to this season (like losing to Tennessee Tech, or losing all three remaining SEC games, or losing another couple big time players, or a combo of those), Jones is back next year. Dave Hart won’t make that decision in the position he’s in right now, nor should he. That should be the new AD’s call when the time comes. The only way Jones isn’t here next season is if he leaves on his own accord, but he won’t do that either.
“People are ripping Shoop for allowing so many rushing yards. I say it’s because you don’t have the athletes/depth at linebacker. Can we get the rushing stats when Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Darrin Kirkland were on the field together?” – @leland_brew
Daniel: That certainly has played into it in my opinion, but there’s not enough sample size to prove anything with data this year. Those two were only on the field together for a few series in the Appalachian State game.
Nathanael: I think having both of them healthy and on the field at the same time would cut down on the rushing totals a little, but I still think they would be high unless you take away the other injuries too. And throw in the fact that the Vols’ offense isn’t keeping the defense off the field, and I’m not sure how huge of an impact those two being in would actually have.
“Why do bad things happen to good ppl?” – @DrunkVolFan
Daniel: Good Vol fans should know to never take the cup off.
Nathanael: Hey, who says we’re all good people?
“Do the special teams coaches know that holding and blocking in the back are penalties?” – @Breaux_Man
Daniel: We will ask to confirm.
Nathanael: It’s been ridiculous how many penalties there have been on returns this year. And just penalties in general. Tennessee’s returners are talented enough to where you’d think the coverage team shouldn’t feel like they have to do those things, but that’s what happens when you’re an undisciplined team.
“Tennessee miraculously wins the East and gets completely healthy, beats Bama in the SEC championship game. If you’re the CFP Committee, what would you do?” – Nick Weathers
Daniel: I certainly don’t take Tennessee, if that’s what you’re implying. I made a case for UT in that scenario with losses to A&M and Alabama, but that’s all gone now after Saturday. If that is Alabama’s first loss, I would probably still take the Tide, if not, that could open up the door for a team like A&M, LSU or Auburn, depending on the results down the stretch. There are too many other variables from around the nation to say exactly who I would take, but I think at least one SEC team gets in this year in virtually any scenario.
Nathanael: There’s no way in the world the Vols are making the CFP now. None.
“CBJ is snippy and borderline cocky in his press conferences. Does he not realize is act is wearing thin? He’s not Saban.” – @RockyTop10EC
Daniel: It’s not just a Butch Jones thing – it’s an epidemic around college football. I’m constantly amazed how few coaches are able to respectfully answer questions. I have a standing offer: Pay me 10% of the salary of any Power 5 head coach and I will sit in a room with as many reporters and cameras as you’d like for up to an hour twice a week, and I will respectfully answer any question in the world without glaring at or disrespecting anybody.
Nathanael: I get that he’s under a bunch of stress. I really do. I can sympathize with him for that. Every single move he makes, even his clothing choices, gets scrutinized by people. I can absolutely 100% sympathize with him there and realize the stress he’s under at every point in his day. But I agree with Daniel here. It’s not just Butch; it’s a ton of head coaches around college football. The disrespect is ridiculous. Do some reporters maybe deserve it with some of the stupid questions that get asked? Absolutely. But not all of us do. And, as you said, his act is wearing thin.
“Why do we continually hit a 5-yard stop route on 3rd and 10+?” – @asauceman12
Daniel: Why is UT continually in 3rd and 10+? That’s the root of the issue. There have just been too many negative plays – sacks, penalties, negative runs, bad snaps, etc., that have put UT in almost impossible situations. I do agree that Dobbs, at times, can be quick to take the conservative play in those scenarios, but we also saw at South Carolina what happens when he forces something down the field that isn’t there.
Nathanael: Yep, Daniel took the words out of my mouth (or I guess off my typing fingers in this case). The Vols shouldn’t be in that many 3rd and 10s to begin with. But when they are, I don’t think it’s always play-calling that keeps them behind the sticks. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s just Dobbs reading the defense and dumping it off rather than going for his receivers down the field. And sometimes those throws aren’t there. Like Daniel said, we all saw what happens when Dobbs (or most any quarterback) forces it down the field when the coverage is strong.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the Hurd transfer for recruiting?”– Grant Winfree
Daniel: About a 5. I’m sure opposing coaches will negative recruit UT about losing both Hurd and Preston Williams, both five-stars, mid-year, but at the end of the day, I think recruits are most interested in relationships, playing time and ability to get to the NFL. I don’t think it’s something that will devastate UT.
Nathanael: I’m a little more worried about it than Daniel is. I’d say at least a solid 6.5 if not 7-7.5 on this one. I think it’s going to affect in-state recruiting the most, but I also think coaches will use it against Tennessee big time. I can’t think of any other university ever that’s had a former 5-star in-state kid who is about to break a record in his junior season decide to leave when it’s not been some sort of legal matter. There’s no way this doesn’t affect recruiting at least a little, but maybe I’m overestimating how much.
“If Hurd doesn’t have that fumble in the UGA game, and (presumably) go in the dog house, does he wait to transfer until after the year?” – Andrew Whiting
Daniel: Impossible to say. Things certainly started getting weird at Georgia, so maybe, but that’s all speculation.
Nathanael: I have no idea at all. I think it would’ve unraveled eventually, though. I believe things were already souring before that, but that may have been the spark, you’re right.
“Is there a slight chance that AK6 comes back for one more year so he can show the NFL what he can do every week as RB#1?” – Caleb Castleman
Daniel: Slight chance? Sure. My best guess is that he will go, however, and I think that he should. The best argument for him staying is probably the talent and depth of this year’s running back draft class, but still, I’d rather go on and get drafted a round or two later if I were him.
Nathanael: Yeah, I’d say there’s a chance, but it’s not very likely at this point. He’s shown in flashes what he can do, and that should be enough for any NFL team to want to draft him in a later round. The only reason he’d come back is, as Daniel said, this draft class pushed him much later in the draft than he anticipated and he wanted to improve his stock. But I really don’t think he’ll be back.