Some notes from Butch Jones’ press conference on Monday afternoon:
Injury update: Jones said that safety Todd Kelly Jr, offensive lineman Dylan Wiesman and offensive lineman Chance Hall are all questionable for the Vanderbilt game on Saturday, but added that he anticipates them all being on the practice field Monday afternoon.
That trio missed the Missouri game after Jones listed Wiesman and Hall as “questionable” last week and Kelly Jr. as “doubtful.”
Tennessee started Drew Richmond, Jashon Robertson, Coleman Thomas, Venzell Boulware and Brett Kendrick on the offensive line against the Tigers. Freshman Nigel Warrior made his first career start at safety in Kelly’s spot, though sophomore Stephen Griffin also saw regular action in the game.
Championship talk: There’s been plenty of discussion of expectations in the past few weeks after Tennessee fell short of winning the SEC East on Saturday. Jones said after the game on Saturday that the only expectation for the program is to go 1-0 each week, which he was proud of the team for accomplishing against Missouri.
Jones said on Monday that championships are the expectation at Tennessee, but those can take different forms.
“There’s still a bowl game championship left to be out there,” Jones said when asked how he keeps his team focus. “And also, when I say win championships, it’s also about being individual champions. And that’s part of the championship message as well. We’re working to be individual champions every single day. There’s a lot to be played for. This has the makings to being a great, great, very, very special season. You look at all the great things we’ve accomplished and all the great things that are ahead of us.”
Jones also that he views the senior class as champions of life because of everything they’ve done on and off the field.
“These individuals mean a lot to me personally, and they mean a lot to our football program,” Jones said. “When we talked about winning championships. They’re a champion. They’ve won the biggest championship – and that’s the championship of life. And they’re going to be college graduates, some of them are already college graduates.
“What they’ve brought from a leadership standpoint, from a stability standpoint, from getting Tennessee football back – it used to be just win a game, now it’s not just winning the game, it’s how you win the game, it’s now what’s next. That’s everything that they’ve built over the course of time. I talked about being 14-3. This football program wouldn’t be 14-3 without our seniors. I’m indebted for them – Vol For Life. I’ll be a part of their life for many years to come.”
Dobbs/Barnett honored: Derek Barnett was honored as the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after recording another sack – the 31st in his career – leaving him just one short of tying Reggie White’s UT record.
Joshua Dobbs has received multiple awards including the Manning Star Award of the Week, the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week and the Athlon SEC Player of the Week, for his performance against Missouri, which including 190 yards of rushing, 223 yards passing and five total touchdowns.
Vandy line: Tennessee opened as a 9.5-point favorite against Vanderbilt on Saturday. That has moved down to eight points as of Monday afternoon.