Tennessee fell to 3-4 on the season and 0-4 in SEC play today against Alabama. Butch Jones shared his thoughts on the game at the podium. Here are the highlights.
“When you play a team like Alabama, every mistake you make is magnified,” Jones began. “In the first half, we got off the field twice — we got a couple of penalties, they extend drives and it can change on you in a hurry. We can’t make mistakes and extend drives for them.”
Jones is likely referencing Jonathan Kongbo’s two killer hands to the face penalties, which allowed Alabama to keep drives alive before halftime. It also nullified a potential turnover.
When asked to address the offense’s lack of production, Jones said that “They (Alabama) have been doing that to everyone. They’re very talented, but there’s no excuse. We have to execute.”
“What’s absolutely tearing me up, is that we have 2nd and goal on the one and we jump offsides. Now it’s second and goal on the six. That’s discipline and we’re not executing in those situations,” Jones said.
Butch said of Rashaan Gaulden, “That’s unacceptable. That’s something that will be dealt win internally. That’s not what we are — that’s not what we’re about. He knew that. We spoke about it and he feels awful about it.”
To Gaulden’s credit, he was very apologetic during his time with the media after Butch. Kudos to him for facing the media in a tough spot.
Jones was asked what the hardest part of this last month has been. He said “It’s all about our kids. They’re working hard. I hurt for them, they invest so much in it. I told them right now our leadership is being challenged. We have to continue to stay together and work.”
“How you feel in that locker room right now, you have to apply it. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday — all that in terms of sacrificing and committing. Taking pride in your preparation. We expect to win, that’s why you play the game,” Jones said.
The Tennessee offense continues to be invisible. They weren’t able to score a point today, and Butch is pointing to a lack of big plays as to why.
“We make big plays in practice, but we’ve got to be able to carry them over to gameday,” Jones said. “Against Alabama, you’re not going to be able to methodically drive the ball downfield, you need big, explosive plays.”
Jones singled out two young defensive players as he wrapped things up at the podium.
Daniel Bituli was one of the few bright spots today, taking an interception to the house for Tennessee’s only score. “Daniel’s been battling through some injuries. He continues to get better and better. There’s a lot of things that we can build off of with him,” Jones said.
“I thought Sham (Shawn Shamburger) did some really nice things,” Jones said. The freshman cornerback started in place of the injured Justin Martin today and was all around the football.