Keeping this brief because it’s obviously late and today’s focus went into the Corey Vereen feature. And also Game 7 of the World Series, but anyway.
Butch Jones said again on Vol Calls Wednesday night that senior quarterback Justin Worley isn’t quite game ready but is working his way back from his shoulder injury. Offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and the rest of the assistant coaches are loathe to discuss injuries without Jones present, but Bajakian did say that Worley wouldn’t be available if Saturday’s game against South Carolina were held tomorrow.
Bajakian said Joshua Dobbs is progressing at practice, though consistency in accuracy is still an issue.
“Ball location,” he said when asked what about him is inconsistent. “I go back to the game he had. He threw some really good balls right on target right on time. Then he had Marquez on the slant that he missed which was wide open for the touchdown potentially. We had to settle for three points. We also had another play down the sidelines when he was rolling out. He had, I can’t remember who it was exactly, I think it was Jason Croom down the sideline. And he missed him. We just need to improve on accuracy and ball location.”
However, Bajakian said he wasn’t surprised Dobbs was successful in the loss against Alabama.
“Josh has a lot of talent,” Bajakian said. “Works hard at his craft and throughout the course of last year and last spring and this training camp and all has gotten better and better.”
— Offensive line coach Don Mahoney said the strong performance of the line a welcome change in that position room.
“It was huge,” Mahoney said. “It’s been such a tough go week in and week out with some of the things that have been happening. The results that have been taking place and coming to work every day and it’s kind of a beat down. Come to practice every day, not so much the approach, but just the feeling that we were going to keep digging and keep digging and keep scratching and clawing and some positive results are going to happen for us. For that reason I was happy because I’ve been saying all along how hard they’ve been working as a group and would they ever get a chance to see some of that work pay off, and it did. That was good to have happen for them. Still, a loss is something that without a doubt is not acceptable, so by no means is that something we’re saying is OK, but from a unit standpoint, that’s something to draw from.”
Mahoney said he was especially pleased with the players who had to step in and move in the absence of right tackle Coleman Thomas and left guard Marcus Jackson.
“Brett (Kendrick) has improved for sure from Arkansas State to last weekend,” Mahoney said. “I think he played a lot faster. He was not worried about making some mistakes usually some guys that are playing for the first time tend to do. He played at the level he’s been practicing at, which is pretty dang good. It was definitely a positive for the way he did. Kyler (Kerbyson) at guard is something that he’s better at and stronger at. For his physical size and stature that way that was something that favors him. He did some things a lot better. Jacob Gilliam played 83 snaps and I think there were times where he did some things well. He got back into a routine of game play against then. There were some opportunities where he gained some confidence.”
Mahoney did not hint about what the line will look like this week. He said now that the Vols have more than five players with experience, it’s possible there could be some in-game substitution, which doesn’t happen much outside of necessity on the offensive line.
— Jones was asked again on Vol Calls about the Michigan job. He was even more definitive in his response this time.
“Normally I don’t comment on these situations,” Jones said. “Like I said, there’s nothing that needs to be commented on. But I can tell John and I can tell all of Vol Nation, I am 100 percent committed to building this football program and developing great young men and winning championships for many many years to come. We are driven to do that. Vol Nation has been unbelievable to us and you know I’m a loyal person.”