Butch Jones took the podium this afternoon in the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio for a Wednesday edition of his weekly press conference. This week features Jones’ recap of the double-overtime thriller in Atlanta and which players will need to step up against Indiana State. These are the five biggest takeaways from what Jones and his players had to say.
Guarantano is just “one snap away”
Jones consistently relayed the message that while Dormady was the starter in Monday’s win over the Yellow Jackets, Guarantano is one play away from his opportunity. “Sometimes you’re antsy to play, but we always tell him he’s one snap away,” said Jones. He stated that Dormady and Guarantano would “continue to compete” as the season goes on. In the win over Georgia Tech, Guarantano didn’t see the field.
Playmakers arise in thrilling double-overtime win
Jones shed light on the impressive play of true freshman offensive linemen Trey Smith, as well as senior center Jashon Robertson. These guys were the glue of the offensive line on Monday night.
Linebacker Daniel Bituli received high praise from Jones following his 23 tackles performance against Georgia Tech. “It was a big spark to get Bituli in,” stated Jones who also praised Bituli’s ability to play the MIKE and SAM position at linebacker.
Receiver Marquez Callaway was the talk of the press conference, but none of his fellow teammates or Jones were surprised about his dominant performance on Monday night.
Quarterback Quentin Dormady noted that Callaway is, “one of the hardest working players on the team.”
Jones also added that walk-on defensive lineman Paul Bain’s game-saving block against the Yellow Jackets was extremely rewarding and spoke on the amount of respect he has for Bain. The walk-on works two jobs – at Champs and on a farm where he grinds horse feed – in order to pay for school.
Fellow defensive lineman Darrell Taylor was also applauded by Jones for his 12 tackle performance and the way he was a leader along the defensive line.
Jones started off the press conference by saying that suspended offensive tackle Drew Richmond would be available for practice and for Saturday’s game against Indiana State. Defensive tackles Shy Tuttle and Kendal Vickers are both listed as questionable, as well as receiver Josh Smith. Jones didn’t give a timetable of return for receiver Jauan Jennings after the wrist injury he suffered against Georgia Tech. Jennings is expected to be out for up to 12 weeks due to a dislocated elbow.
Who’s stepping up in place of Jennings
Both Jones and Dormady called on freshman receiver Josh Palmer to step up in the absence of Jennings. The Vols seemed to have found their number one guy after Callaway’s performance, but the battle for the rest of the depth chart is still alive. Jones said that the 6-foot-6-inch senior Jeff George would get a chance to put himself in the mix and make the best of his opportunity.
Dormady remains confident in the offense
Dormady blamed his early game struggles against the Yellow Jackets on a difference in game rhythm. “It wasn’t nerves,” said Dormady, “but after halftime we settled down.” He called on Josh Palmer as a player that can possibly step up along with Callaway at wide receiver. “You saw some of what Callaway can do, now Josh Palmer can step up and show what he can do,” Dormady said. It is clear that Dormady is antsy to get back on the practice field and get things fixed after a shaky start to the 2017 season.