Butch Jones opened Monday's press conference by sending out his thoughts and prayers to Ben Flick and Dan Williams. Flick was one of Jones' players at Cincinnati, and he died in a car accident this week. We all remember Dan Williams from his time on the defensive line at Tennessee in the late 2000s, and he lost his father in a car accident this weekend. The thoughts and prayers of the Tennessee family are with the Flicks and the Williams.
Turning to football, Jones had the usual comments about how we really respect next's weeks opponents, as well as some more detailed comments on the quarterbacks, the offensive line, and a couple other individuals. A quick summary, point by point:
- Nathan Peterman is having hand surgery and will be out at least four weeks. We can't pinpoint exactly when he was injured, and neither can he. Adrenalin and all.
- Justin Worley is the starter. He knows he made one terrible play that we can't have, but Jones was impressed with Worley's mindset and leadership coming back in for the second half. He responded exactly the way you'd like him to.
- Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs are still fighting in practice. Dobbs not traveling means. Nothing. We couldn't travel four quarterbacks, so one had to stay home. It means nothing. They're both getting plenty of reps and they'll both keep getting plenty of reps. We're looking for command, leadership, and not making mistakes.
- The offensive line is not physical enough, and they need to really work on their pad level, which is one of the hardest things to teach. Everybody expects them to dominate every play, but they just need to get consistent four yards. They have played a couple great defensive lines the last two weeks, and they are being hurt by the lack of big plays. Until we show we can beat it, we'll keep seeing man coverage and stacking the box. And Ja'Wuan James confirmed that the first fumble, the offensive line and running backs got a different play call on protection.
- The team as a whole made excellent strides mentally, this was the first time that we had that remorse in the locker room of giving everything we had and not getting a win out of it. That should be a standard moving forward, because when you're putting that into everything, that's what you'll get out. However, there's still a long way to go mentally, and the South Alabama game will tell a lot.
- Tempo is still an issue on offense, and the biggest problem is going three-and-out so often and putting the defense in bad spots.
- We have the players to make big plays, but they're all young and learning. Pig Howard, Marquez North, and Josh Smith will get better. Jason Croom is starting to get better. And as we start making better decisions, we can call more plays that require decisions. Jones gave Pig Howard's decision to just run instead of pitching on a double-reverse call as an example. He saw that the play was breaking down, and he made a good decision under pressure.
- Curt Maggitt is still week to week. If this continues, we may have a discussion with him and his family about redshirting.
- Everybody loves Corey Vereen. Jones said he should be an example for the program, that he's one of the hardest workers on the team, that he watches extra film, that he runs extra sprints, that he stretches an hour a day, and it shows.
- We're trying to work Jalen Reeves-Maybin in slowly after his injury, but he was impressive on special teams Saturday. [Ed.: As we all saw.]
- If a player or their family publicly complains about playing time, that will be handled one-on-one. [Ed.: I'm not sure what situation prompted this question.]
- Jones hasn't talked to Arian Foster, but he mentioned that Tennessee has a full-time compliance officer in the football office, and they have weekly information sessions.