Butch Jones asked about offensive line’s ‘inconsistent play’: ‘I totally disagree’

Butch Jones meets with media this week (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones forcefully defended his veteran offensive line during an appearance on Nashville radio Friday morning.

Jones’ frequent radio appearances are usually mild, upbeat and free of conflict.

But a question about the Vols’ offensive line prompted an assertive response on 104.5 The Zone this morning.

The host (I believe Mark Howard) asked: “What about the offensive line? Obviously a lot of talent there, but it hasn’t always come together. How do you account for that unit’s inconsistent play this season?”

“Well, I totally disagree with that comment,” Jones replied. “I think if you look at everything, if we stay on schedule, it will be the best rushing season we’ve had at Tennessee since 2004.”

Sure enough, check out the stats. If the Vols have even modest production on the ground in their final two games, this will be the best rushing team in nine years.

All that production has come with a very young supporting cast and very few “splash” plays.

“During this bye week, I’ve gone back and watched their body of work during the course of the season and we’ve been able to run the ball efficiently,” Jones said. “But the problem is we’re not getting 40-, 50-yard chunk plays.”

The interview was very cordial and neither Jones nor the hosts were testy. But Jones clearly wanted to make a point.

“We’re going to need (the offensive line) down the stretch,” Jones concluded. “Do they need to play better? Absolutely. Everybody needs to play better. And we need to coach better the last two games.”