Butch Jones talked to the media during his weekly press conference to open the week.
Jones discussed his team’s win over Southern Miss on Saturday while updating a few injuries and previewing the Vols game against Missouri.
Here are a few notable comments from Jones’ visit with the media.
More and More Injuries
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano missed the entire second half of the Vols’ win over Southern Miss. Jones says Guarantano is progressing well after his injury.
“Jarrett Guarantano is much, much better today. He’s listed as probable,” he said.
Brett Kendrick, Drew Richmond and Marquez Callaway are listed as questionable according to Jones.
Marcus Tatum, Latrell Williams and Evan Berry will not be available for the Vols’ game against Missouri. Latrell Williams will have surgery this week, meaning he’s done for the year.
Jones also said that despite Berry’s return against Southern Miss, he’s done for the year too. The All-American kick returner played in only a handful of games this season and has missed the vast majority of this season with injury.
Butch said that Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is one of the best quarterbacks his team has faced this season.
“When you look at their offense, it’s explosive and dynamic,” Jones said. “The impressive thing is, they don’t give up very many negative yardage football plays.”
Lock’s release has impressed Jones, who says he’s got the best release of anyone the Vols have seen this season.
“Drew Lock is a challenge in and of itself. He has as quick of a release as anyone we’ve faced. They play to his skill set. The big thing is you can’t get to him,” Jones added.
Defensively, Missouri struggled to open the year. But in their three game winning streak, the Tigers defense has started to gain some major momentum.
“I love their style of play…they’ve had pretty much the same starting lineup. I think they’re playing with a lot of confidence,” he said.
On the offensive line and at wide receiver, the Vols’ starting rotation continues to change.
At the line of scrimmage, Jones thought his young players played well against Southern Miss.
“Offensive line, as we know, was a very challenging situation. I thought for the most part our players did a good job…many positive things to build on,” he said.
With Callaway, Williams and Jauan Jennings out at wide receiver, that position is losing depth as well.
Jones is relying on a few freshmen to carry that unit this weekend.
“The reps that Josh Palmer is receiving, he’ll continue to grow and develop,” Jones said. “Jordan Murphy made his first catch on Saturday night, and we’ll continue to lean on him…Tyler Byrd will be even more involved. These individuals continue to work and they’ll be ready come Saturday.”
Jones said that Trey Smith will continue to get a look at left tackle. And he’s excited about the flexibility the freshman gives him at that spot.
“That’s something that affords us a luxury that we’ve not really had in terms of depth…that adds for a lot of different combinations that we need especially with our lack of depth there,” he said.
Freshman quarterback Will McBride’s redshirt is gone after his relief performance against Southern Miss. Jones was pleased with the way his true freshman handled his debut.
Overall, he wasn’t surprised that the freshman was forced to see the field. He’s been planning on it.
“All along, we’ve expected Will McBride would have to play at some point in time. We’ve worked hard with him and his reps in practice…I just know this young man was excited to play and his family was excited he was playing,” Jones said.
Jones said McBride has the support of his teammates. And he added that the freshman QB is wise beyond his years.
“Will has a unique personality. He does not get rattled. Our players believe in him and they get excited when he’s in the football game. He can make the throws, he’s very cerebral,” he said.