The Tennessee football season hit a new low on Saturday night in Columbia, Missouri. The Vols were thrashed by the now 5-5 Missouri Tigers, throwing Butch Jones’ already hot seat directly into the flames. It was brief, but Butch faced the media after the debacle.
“Four turnovers. Can’t have four turnovers,” Jones began. “Way too many missed tackles. Too many missed (run) fits. We had an opportunity to go into halftime at 17-17 and gave up a catastrophic run.”
Missouri ran for 433 yards against Tennessee, totaling 659 yards of total offense on the night.
“We have to remember this feeling and move on,” Jones said.
Tennessee entered this game decimated by injuries at quarterback and along the offensive line. To his credit, Jones didn’t use that fact as a crutch.
“At one point we had 8 (on the field at one time),” Butch Jones said speaking of playing freshman. “It isn’t an excuse, it just is what it is. I hope they learn from this. I give them a lot of credit. I thought they battled.”
When asked about John Currie’s support, Butch got snarky. “At least you’re consistent with your questions,” Jones said. The same reporter asked Butch about his job security after the Alabama loss.
I’m not sure what Jones was expecting there. It’s the elephant in the room — of course you’re going to get that question. It was totally fair to ask again after such a dreadful night.
Jones answered, “The message is the same. We have two games left. It’s all about this football team and how we finish. We work exceptionally hard every day. It’s very disappointing when you invest what you invest every day and don’t win on Saturdays. It’s about our players, it ain’t about the coach. We’ve got another great challenge against LSU on Saturday night in Neyland.”
One puzzling thing here was the situation that developed over the week with Jarrett Guarantano. After saying that the redshirt freshman quarterback could have re-entered the game against Southern Miss, Butch Jones labelled him as probable on Monday and Wednesday. He then said he was questionable on Vol Calls. Then he ended up starting true freshman Will McBride.
“It happened during the course of the week. Jarrett really wasn’t able to practice. He worked overtime in the training room. He had himself ready to go in an emergency situation,” Jones said.
McBride was playing a pretty nice game until the turnover bug bit him in the second half. He was responsible for three turnovers, which ultimately broke the Vols’ back.
Butch was asked about what he told the team following the game. He said, “We’re a family. We have two games left at Neyland Stadium. How do you want to be remembered? You have to go back to work. That’s all I can say.”
Tennessee gets LSU in Knoxville next Saturday night, then finishes with Vanderbilt. There’s plenty left to play for, but unfortunately for this team those reasons are to simply not do something that Tennessee has never done. The Vols have never lost eight games or gone winless in the SEC before.
This group will have to win one of the final two games to stay out of uncharted territory.