Butch Jones talked with the media on Monday, reviewing the Vols’ loss to South Carolina and looking ahead to the upcoming match-up with No. 1 Alabama.
Here’s what Butch Jones had to say.
Tennessee will have a few injured guys at practice Monday, but their status is still up in the air for this weekend’s game against the Tide.
“Evan Berry will be at practice for the first time today,” Jones said. “He’s worked hard to get back.”
Jones added that Berry’s status against the Tide is still to be decided, but he’s finally cleared a major hurdle in order to return to practice. He also said that Jakob Johnson is in the same category.
As for suspended defensive end Darrell Taylor, Jones said he’ll still miss out on this weekend’s game after his suspension that was announced early last week.
Jones said his team came out “pretty healthy” from the game over the weekend. But the status of those who were already injured is still in doubt.
“Aaron Medley will be out for an extended period of time. He’s the one individual who will be out for an unspecified period of time,” he said.
Guarantano Goes into Start No. 2
Butch Jones liked what he saw from Jarrett Guarantano against South Carolina. He said that the redshirt freshman spent time in the film room Sunday, and is ready to take the next step.
That step will be aided greatly by the downfield passing game.
“One thing that you can’t put a price tag on is playing experience. I thought in the end he stood in the pocket. He gave us an opportunity to win the game at the end,” Jones said.
“I thought in the first quarter we played to our style…we were able to get some up-tempo plays in there. In the second half, way too many three-and-outs. We didn’t play to the tempo we liked.”
Jones wants more tempo from his offense, who moved the ball in the first half when they got to the line quickly. But the large volume of three-and-outs stifled that tempo in the final half hour.
Creating the “Big Play”
Guarantano plays a big role in the downfield passing game, but Jones told us that there’s much more involved.
When the quarterback is sacked seven times like Guarantano was against South Carolina, it’s hard to get any downfield receivers open. Jones went in detail on the anatomy of the big play, telling the media that it’s on the entire offense, not just the quarterbacks.
“There’s a lot that goes into the big play,” Jones said. “First of all, it’s the ability to win your one-on-one matchup. There’s a number of times that you have an opportunity for a big play but we don’t win a matchup up front or you go with a different read. There’s so many things that go into it.”
“We’re missing big plays, not just on the offensive side of the ball but also the defensive side of the ball, and also the special teams game,” he added.
Coaching on the Hot Seat
Butch Jones isn’t concerned about being on the “hot seat.” He told the media on Monday that he won’t be focused on the uncertainty surrounding his job security.
“I don’t worry about any of that. I just focus on the next football game,” he said.
He also told reporters he thought the Vols played their style of football against South Carolina. But that they made a few small, but costly mistakes that made a big impact.
“Really, it came down to execution. It was a breakdown here and a breakdown there,” he said.
The Vols’ struggles isn’t a scheme or coaching issue to Jones. He is concerned about the inability to execute and avoid costly mistakes. So he may not tell the media about much of the pressure he’s facing. But if those mistakes don’t get fixed, that seat is only going to get hotter.