Butch Jones met with the media on Friday to kick of the start of fall camp for the Vols. He addressed everything from injuries to strength gains over the offseason to how the Vols will prepare for Georgia Tech in the season opener.
Here are the highlights from Jones’ presser:
For the most part, the Vols were able to get healthy over the summer months. But Jones did have some updates on players still recovering and an update on an offensive lineman who may be expected to provide valuable depth this season.
According to Jones, offensive lineman Chance Hall will be getting a second opinion on his knee. Jones says he will “know a little more later” about the injury and diagnosis and didn’t provide a timetable.
Jones also gave an update on two Tennessee linebackers. Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Daniel Bituli will be “limited” to start fall camp. Jones did say he expects Kirkland to be a “full go” by the second wek of camp, however. He also stated that Shy Tuttle will be “very limited” to start but he and the coaches will “address his progress every day.”
New Tennessee strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson and his new strength program has been a big focus of the offseason for Tennessee. And according to Jones, the new program is really paying off for players.
According to Jones, 21 players on the roster can now power clean 300 pounds or more, and 64 different players have set records in the weight room. And of those 64 players, 15 were freshmen. Jones also singled out linebacker Cortez McDowell as someone who has “really changed his body.”
Preparing for Georgia Tech
The Vols will face Georgia Tech to start their 2017 season, and as fans probably know at this point, the Yellow Jackets’ offense isn’t a conventional one. Georgia Tech runs a triple option offense, and that kind of offense takes special preparation. And Jones knows this.
Jones said the defense will have to play with even greater consistency than normal against the Yellow Jackets, and he anticipates the offense won’t be on the field nearly as often as they’re used to. “We might get 40 (offensive) snaps against Georgia Tech,” Jones said. “We usually get 40 snaps or more in a half.”
Jones cited the ability the coaching staff had to redshirt players in the past as a reason why the depth for this year’s team will be improved. He also said that, to him, it doesn’t necessarily matter who “runs with the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd teams” at practice, but what matters more is the amount of reps each player gets.
Jones also stated that the Vols will have to rely on freshmen at both wide receiver and tight end this season because of the youth in the depth chart at both positions.