Butch Jones took the podium at Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio around noon for his weekly Monday press conference. This time around, Jones recapped the loss in Gainesville, the first-and-goal debacle and updated the Vols injury situation. Here are five takeaways from Jones’ press conference this week.
Jones takes full responsibility
Shortly after taking the podium, Jones made it evident that he was responsible for the 26-20 Hail Mary loss to the Gators on Saturday. “I’m responsible, but there is still a lot of football left to be played,” said Jones. On the bright side for fans, he said that all of the players were in the facility on Sunday and ready to get back to work. For Jones, the downfall for the Tennessee team in Gainesville were the details. “I thought our will to win gave us an opportunity to win, but out details did not,” stated Jones.
Goal line miscue debunked
The controversial call to deny running back John Kelly the ball on the goal line by the Vols coaching staff left many baffled on Saturday. Jones said that starting quarterback Quentin Dormady tweaked his ankle on the first down play, which forced backup Jarrett Guarantano into the game. Jones then said that they didn’t run a quarterback sneak because Guarantano, “hasn’t practiced under center snaps.” Jones rounded out the answer by stating, “Make no mistake about it, when we get it down there we need to run the football.”
Jones had devastating news for the already thin linebacker corps on Monday. He said that junior Cortez McDowell would miss the remainder of the season with a wrist injury. This is the same exact wrist injury that receiver Jauan Jennings suffered. With safety Todd Kelly Jr. out indefinitely, the already depleted defense will lose even more depth with the loss of McDowell.
Who has to step up
Jones made it evident that Bituli would remain at the MIKE position and would not be used at any other positions for the time being. However, with the injury of McDowell, sophomore Quart’e Sapp will receive valuable reps for the remainder of the season.
“He has worked hard to get back from a knee injury. We’re going to have to rely on him more and more,” said Jones.
An update on the status of graduate-transfer cornerback Shaq Wiggins was offered by Jones. He said that Wiggins is, “working to compete for playing time.” This is odd considering Jones stated that he could not run a dime defense because of the number of injuries at defensive back. Wiggins could possibly see some time against UMass on Saturday if everything goes as planned for Tennessee.
Hail Mary breakdown
Jones said that the final heartbreaking play broke down when Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks scrambled out of the quarterback. “They were going to try to get the ball in the middle of the field,” stated Jones. It is clear that Jones was looking for the Gators to complete a quick pass and call a timeout to set up a field goal. However, this left the deep ball wide open for Franks and Florida to snatch a victory out of the jaws of defeat.
Feature image courtesy of UT Sports
Edited by Ben McKee