As tends to happen most Mondays, various prognosticators released their latest bowl projections updated after the weekend’s games. Most are at least presuming that Tennessee will play in a bowl game, albeit in a lower tier one. Some of those projections follow.
We had a good off week. We started with them on Thursday, had a good fundamental practice Tuesday and Thursday, got some recruiting done last week and got a good start. I think it all starts offensively. Justin Worley I think is playing very well. Completing over 60% of his passes, averaging about 250 yards a game. They’ve really improved themselves at the receiver position. Marquez North and Jason Croom are both 6-4 plus guys that are very difficult match ups in coverage down the field. They take probably 8 to 10 shots in the game. Down the field, you’ve got to defend these guys downfield, bigger guys that are tough match ups. Pig Howard’s a slot guy that’s also played the X and made a ton of plays for them. Josh Malone’s a freshman that’s done a nice job. Josh Smith and Von Pearson were injured last week. I don’t know what their status is for this week, but have all made plays in the passing game, so certainly I think the strength of their team is with Justin and their receiving corps. Running back-wise, Jalen Hurd had over a hundred yards last week, ran hard, tough. 6-3, 240 pounds, instinctive guy who’s a very good football player who we recruited. Marlin Lane’s been there for a while, good football player, and Ethan Wolf’s done some nice things at tight end. They have some new faces up front offensively, but certainly the strength of their team lies in their skill people and the quarterback position. Continue reading
After the jump. From UT athletics media relations. Continue reading
Butch Jones just finished his weekly press conference. Full coverage to follow, but first, some of the highlights.
- Freshman linebacker Dillon Bates will have surgery to repair a torn labrum, Jones said, and will miss the rest of the season. Tennessee will apply for a medical redshirt for Bates, which they expect to have granted. Jones expects Bates to be healthy for spring practice. He recorded six tackles this season as a backup linebacker. Jones said freshmen Cortez McDowell and Jakob Johnson will get more reps as backups in Bates’s absence.
- Jones said he’s not sure yet if wide receivers Von Pearson and Josh Smith will be available for Saturday’s noon home game against Florida (2-1, 1-1 in the SEC). Both are recovering from high ankle sprains. Jones said Person, who injured his ankle in the Vols’ game against Arkansas State on Sept. 6, is ahead of Smith, who suffered his on Sept. 13.
- Jones said Worley will be 100 percent for Saturday’s game against Florida despite the elbow injury he suffered against Georgia.
- Jones said that “in a perfect world,” he’d like to redshirt sophomore quarterback Joshua Dobbs, suggesting that as long as Worley isn’t forced to miss significant time, Peterman will remain the backup. Jones pointed out that Dobbs could still be a play a way from having to appear and has prepared as though he could play at any point. Jones complimented sophomore Nathan Peterman for his play, even though he completed just four of nine passes for 20 yards against Georgia on Saturday.
- Jones said senior tailback Marlin Lane has been dealing with a shoulder injury but is 100 percent now. He said the Vols need to be better at running beyond what the offensive line blocks, but said Lane hasn’t had much opportunity to do that.
- Jones said he saw progress in both the offensive line and special teams, which have been problem areas for the Vols for much of the season. He complimented kicker Aaron Medley and punter Matt Darr for their improvements in Saturday’s game.
- Jones said that senior linebacker A.J. Johnson was actually too active on Saturday, and that even though he had 17 tackles, he often played outside the defense and that got the Vols in trouble. Johnson admitted that was the case and called the performance one of his worst of his career.
- Linebackers Johnson, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Curt Maggitt were all thrilled at the prospect of a Checkered-out Neyland Stadium. “It’s going to be tight,” Maggitt said. “I think it’s gonna be real cool. Noon game, checker-board Neyland, it’s gonna be epic.”
WHAT HAPPENED: Tennessee had a chance at a stunning upset of No. 12 Georgia until the final minutes but fell 35-32 in front off 92,746 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
The Vols fell to 2-2 overall, 0-1 in the SEC. The Bulldogs improved to 3-1, 1-1.
Tennessee jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the game, stifling Georgia on its first two drives and putting together two scoring marches to put the favored Bulldogs in an early hole.
The Vols reached the Georgia 28 on the first drive before stalling, but freshman kicker Aaron Medley hit a 46-yard field goal to give Tennessee a 3-0 lead. After forcing a Georgia punt, Tennessee drove 72 yards on nine plays, culminating in a 1-yard touchdown plunge by freshman tailback Jalen Hurd. Continue reading
By now you’re surely aware that Shy Tuttle, the five-star defensive tackle from North Carolina to whom Tennessee recently sent a photoshopped magazine cover with him next to Beyonce, has committed to the Vols. In case you were not already aware, you can find coverage of this at GoVols247.com.
Butch Jones met with the media via teleconference Wednesday on the SEC Coaches teleconference. Some highlights follow.
- Jones was asked whether his policy on domestic violence is “zero tolerance,” in light of the dismissal of freshman running back Treyvon Paulk after a domestic assault allegation that did not lead to charges. He said that’s not necessarily the case. “Every circumstance is different based on the facts,” Jones said. “You try to gather the facts and you try to make the best informed decision you can make. I think it’s an illustration of what’s going on in the country. It’s all about player conduct. Right now everyone’s under a microscope and very rightfully so. It’s about character. It’s how you treat (people). We always talk to players about the one-second rule. In one second, you’re life could change, and not putting yourselves in those types of situations. It’s very unfortunate, but obviously, it’s a teaching opportunity. You feel for him as well, but we’re moving forward.”
- Jones was asked about the progress of freshman tailback Jalen Hurd. “Jalen continues to progress week in and week out. You can see him gaining a lot of confidence in his style of play. Our players are obviously gaining tremendous confidence in him when he’s in the backfield. We’ve really challenged him to be a complete running back and not just be a rusher. He’s actually one of our better pass protectors. He understands pass protections. He runs exceptionally hard and he gets the hard yards. He gets the yards after contact. He gets the 4 yards first. I’ve been very very encouraged from what we see on a day-to-day basis. He’s very calm and he’s very poised. Doesn’t say much just comes out and competes each and every day.”
- Jones was also asked about Hurd’s symbolic significance to the program as a recruit. “You win with home first and foremost. For us, it’s critical to keep out in-state kids at the University of Tennessee. He’s an individual that’s been one of the highest recruited individuals to come out of our state in a number of years. So for us coming in here and trying to re-establish the state in all of that and the relationships that go along with that obviously, he’s a big, big piece of that puzzle. He’s a name, he’s a household name, and he’s a name that everyone respects.”
- Jones talked at length about Georgia’s running game, and in particular Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley. “Todd Gurley is a great, great – and I say ‘great’ – football player. He can do it all. There’s not very many of him in the country when you look at the total package in terms of his size, his athleticism, his speed, obviously his yards after contact. To me, it’s the stable of running backs. They’re extremely dynamic. They’re dynamic with the ball in their hands. They do good things schematically. I think they play off the strengths of all of their running backs. You can’t just focus on Todd Gurley. There’s so many other weapons on that offense that you have to contain and obviously the pleathora of running backs that they have. I think Hutson (Mason) is managing the offense exceptionally well. We’re very familiar with Hutson. We recruited him when we were at Cincinnati. I think he’s playing winning football there. With back-shoulder throws, so many things that they do. Isaiah McKenzie, I remember him from the recruiting process, Michael Bennett’s been a household name in their offense for a number of years and he’s very consistent, but Todd Gurley’s one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. I think their entire running back group is one of the best if not the best of the country when you look at from depth from top to bottom. That’s not to take anything away from anyone else’s running back corps, but you look at the stable that they have and the talent they have as a group. It’s pretty impressive.
- Jones also talked at length about Georgia’s defense, again pointing out their ability to cause turnovers. “The thing that really sticks out to me is they’re extremely active defensively. They do a great job of ball disruptions. They’re very takeover, turnover conscious. They’re trying to take the ball away on every snap. They play with a lot of energy. Defensive ends are very, very, very good. Bailey’s a great player obviously. Leonard Floyd, they do a great job of moving him around. Ramik Wilson, I believe is one of the best players in our conference in the country. His effort to get to the football. He plays with great instincts. Again, very, very, very talented football team on both sides of the ball and also on special teams.”
Tennessee will pay a $1 million guarantee to host Massachusetts at Neyland Stadium in a home football game on Nov. 4, 2017 according to a release Wednesday from UT athletics.
The Vols and Minutemen have never met in football. Massachusetts, which joined the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2011, is competing as a Mid-American Conference team, but will be independent in 2016 and 2017. The Minutemen are currently 0-4, but all four losses have come against major conference opponents and they narrowly missed upset opportunities against both Colorado and Vanderbilt, losing to each by just three points.
This is another of several hefty game guarantee checks the Vols are writing. Tennessee will pay Georgia State $950,000 for a game in 2019 according to the contract for that game.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones opened his press conference on Monday by saying that freshman running back Treyvon Paulk has been dismissed from the program because of a personal conduct issue.
“We hold our players to a very high standard and expectation with being a member of our football family,” Jones said. “Moving forward, that’s what will occur. I will not answer any more questions regarding the situation.”
Jones did not address further specifics, but did answer a general question about player discipline.
“Every circumstance is different,” Jones said. “I’m a father figure. Unfortunately some incidents are out of my control.”
Paulk, a three-star recruit from Milton High School in Alpharetta, Ga., was expected to redshirt this season after a major knee injury that cost him most of his senior season of high school. His practice time has been limited as his recovery time has dragged on. As a junior at Milton, he rushed for 1,200 yards and 19 touchdowns. Continue reading
Georgia coach Mark Richt met with media via teleconference on Sunday afternoon. Some of his thoughts on Tennessee and on his own team follow.
- Richt didn’t have a complete injury report, but said running back Keith Marshall’s knee injury is not an ACL tear.
- Richt said the thing that most impressed him about Tennessee on film was the Vols’ intensity. “The thing I see more than anything is a high level of energy,” Richt said. “They’ve got a bunch of guys playing really hard, a bunch of guys playing with maximum effort. They look very well coached, they look really excited about playing. I think they’re doing a really good job. i was told in the offseason that they’re the only team in the country that had their whole offensive and defensive line groups leave and have to replace all of those guys. There’s certainly a learning curve there, but there’s just a bunch of guys playing hard is what I see.”
- Richt said he was pleased with his secondary play in the Bulldogs’ 66-0 win over Troy, but said they were fortunate to not have more problems than they did. “I would say there were some really good things that happened. There were also some issues that we had that didn’t get exposed because maybe the quarterback threw to the other side of the field. There’s a couple of mistakes that could have been critical errors that we kind of got away with. We’re still not 100 percent with getting lined up right, but we’re getting a lot better.”
- Georgia is averaging nearly double as many rushing yards (304.0 per game) as passing yards (167.3) which is certainly explained in large part by the amount of talent the Bulldogs have at tailback, where they’re led by Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley. Richt was asked if he thought the Bulldogs were simply bound to be a run-heavy team. “It’s possible,” he said. “There’s no doubt there’s a talented bunch of backs and we’re run-blocking pretty darn good. It’s not a bad way to play a ball game. It did help some play-action pass. We like doing that. We always have. But this last game, we might have said ‘Let’s throw it 50 times a game and see what kind of success we can have.’ But we thought it was more important to take what they give us. They played a game that they really didn’t pack the box. They played more two-safety looks than we thought they would. We thought they’d play more defenses to be geared to stop the run and force us to stop the ball. There were some times that we had some passes called that we checked out of the pass to the run because we thought they were vulnerable to the run game. A lot of it had to do with how they lined up against us.”
- Richt was asked if there was any injury-related reason that Todd Gurley was pulled after just six carries for 73 yards against Troy. “No issues with Gurley. I don’t remember what the score was when we said no more. … We just didn’t feel like he needed to be there anymore, so we let him rest.”