Tennessee head coach Butch Jones faced the media following the Vols’ 29-26 loss to Kentucky late on Saturday night. He began with a quick summary of everything that went wrong.
“Didn’t capitalize on our turnovers,” Jones began. “We were able to generate four turnovers and we were only able to get six points off of it. We weren’t able to capitalize on our great field position — we missed two field goals. Led in time of possession, controlled the ball. We couldn’t stop the quarterback on the zone read. We didn’t make the plays we need to at the end.”
Jones then shouldered some blame for a rash of penalties.
“Nine penalties is inexcusable. That’s on myself,” Jones said. “We talk about details accountability and toughness, that starts with me. It all falls on my shoulders.”
Butch was clearly frustrated with the offense’s inability to convert redzone opportunities into touchdowns. He referenced it a couple of times. “It’s what do you do with the football once you get it? We came away with six points on four turnovers. That’s unacceptable. Our margin of error is very small. Again, we had a touchdown taken off the board, which can’t happen,” Jones said.
Jones was asked about the locker room as a unit and how they were holding up after a brutal October. “Has the team quit? No. That wasn’t a team that has given up. That team hung together and battled,” Jones said. “I think that’s a testament to them. We’re making way too many mistakes, but this team has not given up.”
After the 3-5 start, Butch Jones is in serious danger of missing a bowl bid after going 9-4 in each of the past two seasons. “There’s a lot of pride in that room — in getting back to a bowl game. That’s what we want for our fans,” Jones said.
Tennessee will now have to win three of their final four to get to six wins and bowl eligibility.
“I’ve never been through this in 30+ years with how many games have come down to the wire,” Jones stated. Five of Tennessee’s games this season have come down to the final seconds.
When a reporter asked Jones whether or not he expected to have John Currie’s support for the rest of the season, Butch responded with “Absolutely. I coach for my job every single day. That hasn’t changed since the minute I walked in here year one. That’s always a mindset that I’ve had.”
“I believe in our kids. I believe in our program. I believe in what we’re recruiting. And it’s one of those years. The only way I know is to keep working and driving,” Jones said. “I’ll tell you this — nobody takes more ownership in this football program than Butch Jones.