The message delivered time and time again by Volunteers head coach Butch Jones on Monday was that losing will not be tolerated at the University of Tennessee. This coming after a 59-14 thrashing by the Oregon Ducks Saturday, the worst loss in the team’s history since 1910.
While the Vols need to regroup they won’t have much time as they move to the second contest of a seven game gauntlet this Saturday to play a salty Florida Gator bunch that will be coming off a bye week after suffering a close loss to in-state rival Miami in week two.
While the issues Tennessee had Saturday seemed quite glaring, Jones sited them as the small details his team failed to pay attention as they were routed on Saturday.
“We did a great job the first two weeks of really taking care of the small details,” Jones said. “Obviously against Oregon, we did not pay any attention. We didn’t do the small details of what it takes necessary to win football games. I think a lot of it had to do with the quality of our opponent, but right now, moving forward, we are not a very mentally tough football team.”
Tennessee gave up 687 yards of total offense on Saturday, and allowed the Ducks to score on nine consecutive drives after taking an early lead on a Justin Worley touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Jason Croom. Defensive mistakes were not the only problems the Vols were faced with Saturday, though.
Worley’s quarterback play became more inconsistent as he finished with only 13-of-25 completions for 126 yards, and the level of competition on the defensive end will only get tougher this weekend at Florida.
“When you look at them defensively, they’re only giving about fifty yards per game in the rushing category,” said Jones. “They’ve given up two out of twenty-four attempts on third down conversions. I’ve never seen this in all my years of coaching.”
When asked if a change could be expected for Saturday’s game to give the Vols a better chance to move the ball, Jones made it clear to expect anything.
“We’ll have more quarterback run in to our package this week,” Jones said. “We just need to find ways to generate big explosive plays and if that’s Josh Dobbs running the read option or Riley Ferguson, that’s what we’ll do to create big plays.”
He also made it a point that he would like to see current starting quarterback Worley to be more aggressive with the football, and settle in more. At the same time though, if Jones doesn’t like what he sees this week in practice the position will be up for grabs.
“We need him to attack more,” he said, “but just like any position in our program, it’s open. Whatever quarterback has the best week of practice is going to be the starter for Tennessee when we play Florida.”
Tennessee will travel to Gainesville, Fla. for their first SEC game of the season to face a Gators team they haven’t beaten since 2004. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 3:30 p.m. EDT on CBS.