#MediaMonday: Florida Week Monday Press Conference

by UT Sports Information on September 21, 2015

in Tennessee Vols Football

Monday press conference features head coach Butch Jones and selected players, including quarterback Joshua Dobbs.Sept. 21, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee head coach Butch Jones shared his final thoughts on the Western Carolina win and looked ahead to Saturday’s SEC-opening clash with Florida during his Monday press conference at the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio.

Jones was joined on Monday by quarterback Joshua Dobbs, defensive back Cameron Sutton, defensive back Todd Kelly Jr., and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

(Opening statement)
“Good to see everyone. Just to kind of finish up with the Western Carolina game then moving forward to this week: After watching the video and really reviewing the week of preparation, I really liked the way our players approached the week of preparation and the game. I spoke about them on Saturday night with their business-like approach. They had great energy, and they wanted to get out there and compete for 60 minutes. That was everything that we stressed, and our players did everything that we asked of them. In terms of winning the football game, we followed the plan to win. There is so much that goes into playing winning football and following that plan to win. So many things go into it. Our first down efficiency was 72 percent, with over 80 percent in the first half. Defensively, we had them in third-and-long a number of times throughout the game. We were able to get off the field, defensively. That is a byproduct of winning first down and winning mixed owns and getting back to that first down efficiency. In the turnover margin, we didn’t turn the ball over. Anytime you don’t turn the football over, that presents you the opportunity to win the football game. We took the ball away on defense, and I thought we were opportunistic. We took advantage with our field position. I thought we had big splash plays, particularly in the return game. We played discipline football. We only had three penalties, which has kind of become a staple of what we believe in, in terms of being disciplined. Some things on third down on offense, our overall tackling, leveraging the football; those are things we will constantly strive to compete upon, approve upon and compete at a high level.

“In terms of this week, great challenge going on the road into a hostile environment. Everything is about preparation, and before you want to talk about this is the most important game and everything, it’s not the most important game. It is the most important game in terms of it’s the next game, and that is the way it is. We live in a week-to-week season. It’s a 12-game season, and we are working to get to 13. This game is important because it’s the next game. Does this game mean a lot to a lot of individuals? Absolutely. But again, everything is about our preparation. Everything is about our approach. We just did the travel roster, and 29 individuals will board the first plane for an SEC road trip for the first time in their careers. When we go to Gainesville, only 12 are on the roster that went to the game a couple of years ago. There are a lot of new learning experiences for this football team, going on the road and playing in `The Swamp.’ We have to make sure that not only are we physically prepared play but mentally prepared to play. What can I say about their defense? I don’t know if there are one or two adjectives that could describe it. The word that comes to my mind is impressive. Last week, they held a team to eight completions. They are number one or two in every statistical category, and deservingly so. They are deep. I believe they play 10 on the defensive line. They have the ability to play press-man coverage. They are as good of a defense that we have seen since we have been here. They are active, explosive and get after it. I think that the results speak for themselves. Offensively, they have very, very good skill. I thought [Will] Grier did some good things managing their offense. We will obviously be ready for [Treon] Harris as well. They present some matchup concerns for you. It is going to be a great challenge moving forward, but I know our players are looking forward to a week of preparation and what is to come on Saturday. It will be a great challenge.”

(On if any of the younger players stood out on Saturday)
“What I think occurred is the number of individuals, who had limited game repetitions, realized that there is a difference between practice and games. We had individuals who had a great week of practice and preparation but got into the game and lost respect to their fundamentals and details. I think they tried to play perfect and not make mistakes. Football is a game played by humans. You are going to make mistakes. All we ask is that you go out, execute your fundamentals and play fast. It was a great evaluation tool. Others did well. Others, we need to keep continuing to have in our youth-development sections of practice that we have and in post-practice as well. Anytime you can get individuals those game repetitions, I think it helps your football team and your morale, but it’s also a great gauge for where these football players are. We told them that you are putting your football identity on video. Now, we get to come in today for the first day of preparation for the week correct those mistakes, and they are able to see themselves on video.”

(On Danny O’Brien’s suspension status)
Danny O’Brien has been reinstated to our football program. He will resume practice today.”

(On if he has talked about the streak)
“No. Well, first of all, only 12 individuals on our roster went to Florida. That is for you guys to talk about all week long. What matters is our preparation and becoming a better football team. The challenge that lies ahead of us is playing a really talented football team that is 3-0. All we can control is our work ethic, our mindset, our improvement, our preparation and the go execute on Saturday. That is all you can do. Every game is critical. We don’t put more emphasis on one compared to another because you still have so many games left.”

(On the difference between Florida’s offense this year and last year) 
“Obviously, it’s a new coaching staff, with Coach Nussmeier. There are some nuances there, but it’s obviously different. There are some things that they are similar to with some runs schemes and throw schemes. It’s different in terms of coaching changes and the different nuances and personalities of the coaches that they brought in. They have done a good job. Jim [McElwain] has done a good job. I have known him for a while. You can see his intensity and personality starting to be forged on this football team.”

(On what he saw from Preston Williams
“The thing with Preston is that he didn’t have any training camp, so he has had very limited practice opportunities. Every time he steps out onto the practice field, it is an opportunity to improve his skillset. Then, he is coming off the injury that he had his senior year of high school. When you couple only playing a couple of games his senior year and not having training camp, every practice opportunity is critical for him. Our older players have done a good job of mentoring him in the meeting room and on the field in practice. You see the God-given ability. You see the skillset, but it is just the overall volume of the offense, the techniques and the football endurance that it takes to compete at a high level. Preston is a very competitive young man. He wants to do well. I could see him gaining more and more confidence as his practice opportunities increased. He made some good adjustments, and he will continue to improve. It’s a step-by-step process. We always talk about focus on the process, focus on the journey and focus on the climb. Don’t look up at the mountain. Just focus on it step-by-step, and he has been able to do that.”

(On Darrin Kirkland Jr.’s first start) 
“We were pleased. Again, he was another true-freshman that didn’t have spring football. He had some mental errors that we have to get cleaned up, with the pace of the game, being able to recognize formations and backfield alignments, but for the most part, making his first start, we were very pleased. He overran some things, and I think some of that is his speed. He will have to learn to temper his speed down and remember to put his eyes in the thighs and the other different techniques that go into tackling and leveraging the football. We were very encouraged by his play.”

(On putting the receivers in good situations to win one-on-one press) 
“That is the thing that challenges you. When you have the luxury that they do of playing man coverage and press-man coverage, there is only so many things that you can do. Obviously, you try to gain some formational advantages and different things that way. They have to make the decision if they are going to commit to that or are they going to commit to the run. We will do some different things, maybe with some different personnel groupings and formations to try and give our receivers some relief a little bit. At the end of the day, when you play a man-coverage football team, it comes down to me against you and being able to adapt and adjust to the ball in the air. We need to have some different flood routes and things that every offense tries to create during the course of a game. We have a large volume of that in our package.”

(On the balance of the quarterback throwing versus running the ball) 
“It’s based on the play call, and it’s based on the scheme. Some of it is a 50-50 ball when we have great confidence in our receivers to go up and get the ball. You saw a little more of that last week. Some of it is a scheme thing. Some of it is the timing of the pass concept. That all comes with repetition. For the most part, Josh [Dobbs] has done a good job with that and so did Quinten [Dormady] on Saturday night.”

(On if O’Brien will have to earn his starting spot back) 
“He has to earn everything. He has to earn the travel roster spot by his performance in practice and by doing everything right. We have already spoken to him and laid out the guidelines. It starts today in practice, doing everything right. He has to earn his way back to playing time and to be on the travel roster.”

(On if this is O’Brien’s last chance) 
“I don’t want to consider it a last chance. We are in this profession to help young adults become adults. For any situation, you look at it as was it poor choice or poor character? Danny has done everything that we have asked of him since we have been here. It means something to him. All I can say is he is back. He is reinstated. He understands the perimeters and guidelines. It is an honor and a privilege to represent this great football program, state and university. He understands that.”

(On changing the attitude of the program going into Florida week)
“Everything in sport is all about a routine and keeping the routine the same. That’s why, even when we go on the road and go to road games, it’s imperative that you try to keep as much routine-oriented as possible, whether it’s a home game or an away game, especially when you have 29 individuals making their first SEC road trip, really playing in their first hostile environment. The Nashville game against Bowling Green really wasn’t a road trip. That was a home game for us.

“Everything is routine-oriented. You don’t change things up. You have a consistency in approach each and every day, and that’s how you approach it, and we’ll prepare for Florida just like we prepared for our other three opponents.”

(On what he remembers from the 2013 game in Gainesville)
“First of all, it’s a difficult place to play, just like every venue that you go on the road in the SEC. We have to do a great job with communication from a crowd-noise standpoint. Everything is based on communication, cadence, different things. Communication in terms of the headsets, with the play-calling and coach-to-coach communication. Communication on the sidelines after series. Making sure we have great hydration with the humidity, and all that goes into it to preparing a team to have great road focus. There’s a lot that goes into that.

“In terms of what I remember, is we had numerous opportunities, and we didn’t cash-in. I believe we took a team in there that, really, I don’t know if they truly believed they could win. After the game we sat in the locker room, and we said, `You know what, we had every opportunity to win the football game.’ That’s part of belief. That’s part of investing in victory. There’s a lot that goes into it. We were opportunistic, in terms of an interception, but we weren’t able to capitalize on field position in that game.”

(On the importance of winning the first SEC game of the season)
“Any time where you can get where you’re 1-0, and it’s a divisional game, it’s very, very important. Getting off to a good start is imperative. It’s important, but also, it’s a long football season. Just like I asked our players to keep a journal, just like I keep a journal week-to-week, it’s amazing how many stories occur each week that everything’s on fire, and this is a panic. Maybe that’s what we’re trying to create, but then when you step back and you look, you say `Look at all the amount of energy we put into worrying about that.’ Really, there was nothing there.

“That’s why we just stay focused on the task at hand. It’s a long season, and again, the teams and the programs that can manage the natural adversities that a football season brings about are the ones that like their body of work when it’s all said and done. We live in a week-to-week society. We live in a week-to-week season. We understand that. That’s why we can only control the now. We can’t worry about yesterday. We can’t worry about tomorrow. We have to just concentrate on the now and when today.”

(On the team having the confidence to win this week)
“I do. I believe our players expect to win every time they step out on the football field. You look at where we’re at, we’re 2-1 right now. We took a top five overall football program into double overtime. We took care of business against a very, very good Bowling Green football team, and we did what we needed to do to get the victory last week. We’ve had a workman-like approach. They have not blinked, and we continue to get better. “Now, this week, obviously the quality of opponent increases, more so than we’ve seen any time this year to date. That’s why this week of preparation is going to be very, very important, not just physically, but mentally as well.”

(On the status of Jason CroomMax Arnold, and Ralph David Abernathy IV)
“We expect Max Arnold to be back at practice. We’ll know a little bit more on his status as the week progresses. Ralph David Abernathy IV is still a couple weeks away right now. Jason Croom continues to progress, but he’s not ready. It’s still probably going to be a couple weeks with his status. I’ll know a little bit more on Ralph David and Jason, probably mid-week. They won’t be available for Florida. There’s a possibility that Max Arnold could be available for Florida.”

(On spreading the ball out on offense)
“I think it’s the flavor of the game a little bit. Alton [“Pig” Howard] also tweaked his ankle a little bit. So, in terms of playing time he missed some valuable repetitions because of that, he should be fine. It’s just taking advantage when you’re number is called. I think there’s a lot of things that go into it. We have to get him going, because he is a big part of our offense. He’s very explosive and we consider him one of our playmakers on offense. There’s been a lot of circumstances behind the why about not much production but we’re working on changing that.”

(On chemistry between QB and receivers when there is so much change at receiver)
“No, not really because of the inordinate amount of time they spend together. Like I told you when you asked that question two weeks ago, they spend so much time together in the summer, in training camp, all that goes into it. It’s all about the trust and I know where you’re going with it. Trust and understanding body language and when they’re coming out of their breaks. We make sure and we chart everything, that they’re get hitch throws to the right; they’re getting hitch throws to the left. They’re getting them with these receivers. I don’t think that’s been, but with playing multiple position groupings now with three receivers, four receivers. We even have some five receiver packages where reps are critical and then our style of play. To play at a high level; your reps, if they are between 35 and 45 that’s pretty productive. When you get in where you have 80-90 reps that challenges throughout the course of a long season. We have had players do that, and do it successfully. Antonio Brown was one of those players who could handle the high volume of reps. It’s really based on the individual and taking care of their legs and their body, but I don’t see that being a chemistry problem at all, because we work a lot on that.”

(On Florida winning a couple close games)
“You can see the confidence from week one to week two to week three now. You can really see the confidence in their style of play, the confidence I think in how they’re going to win football games how they manage games. It’s just like us you play to the personality of your football team, you play to the strengths of your football team. Everything is managing a football game from when do you go for it, when do you kick, when do you punt. Trick plays, different things that go into managing a game and it’s a lot based on the formula for winning in your program, but the formula for winning that particular game as well. You can see them having more and more confidence in their style of play.”

(On feedback from team’s word based on Saturday’s game)
“I will have that today in our team meeting. We’ll meet at 2:30, like we always do on Mondays we review the game, we show video. It’s at that point in time that we’ll go back and there is two things we asked them; the word or adjective that would describe their style play for that game and one word that would describe their group identity, the power of the position, their unit, their individual group. So I will have more of that today when we meet.”

(On balancing passion and emotion)
“Well that’s a good question and there is a big difference between playing with passion and playing with emotion. Emotion wears out, emotion runs out, emotion doesn’t last. Passion lasts. If you love what you’re doing, love what you’re representing, you love competing you’ll have great passion, great passion never leaves you. When you have passion, you’re focused, you’re determined. You’re focused on the task at hand. When you’re emotional, sometimes you can make erratic decisions, you’re not locked in. That’s what I like about this football team, is they’ve been very businesslike, they’ve been very passionate. We’ve had very spirited practices, there’s been very few times where we’ve walked off the practice field and we’ve said we haven’t been in a practice today. It’s our job as coaches too, to create that environment in practice where they want to come to practice; they want to learn, they want to get better.

“This is going to be another challenge in and of itself in preparing this football team this week, because it’s exam week. We’ve spoken to a lot of experts and they’ve talked about we have to guard against mental fatigue. Mental fatigue with football, preparing for the game and having their exams and as the head coach, these are all these things when we talk about preparing your team and bringing 29 individuals on the road for the first time and all that. These are all the things. Now you can kind of see a full circle coming back. Now you got exams, they understand what’s at stake; they understand the importance of the game. Now you go and put all this undo pressure on them, and you can become fatigued mentally. We have to be mentally fresh; we have to be mentally alert going into a hostile environment playing a top quality, upper echelon opponent in our conference. Again these are 17 to 22/23 year old individuals but they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them more so and I expect the same this week. Just like for the following weeks to come.”


(On WR Preston Williams winning SEC Freshman of the Week)

“Preston’s been making plays in practice. He made plays this past Saturday. The sky’s the limit for him. He’s the kind of receiver that catches anything in his direction. I definitely see a high ceiling for him, and we’ll definitely be excited to see him this weekend, and weekends to come.”

(On being motivated to beat Florida)

“I’m here to win every game, so I don’t really think about [the streak]. You know, history’s history. Our goal is to go out there and make new history this weekend. I play to win every game, and I’m excited to play [Florida] again.”

(On impact of last year’s Florida game)

“It’s a new year. That was Team 118, we are Team 119 now. The maturity level of our football team, we are able to handle adversity and not let that faze us and not let it hinder us. Be a positive, we learned from it and moved forward. We are ready to go each and every week, like Josh said each and every Saturday is a new life of its own. Each game is a new life of its own. Prepare the same each and every weekend and be ready to go Saturday.”

(On team’s readiness for SEC play)

“We’re a family, we’re bonded. We play for each other out there on the field, we don’t really care about the credit, we don’t care about who gets what, who gets to score touchdowns. We just want to play football, we’re all tied to a string out there on the field: offense, defense, and special teams. We play together well and it shows out there on the field. We enjoy being out there together.”

(On LaDarrell McNeil’s return against Western Carolina)

“For him to go through [his injury], and be able to bounce back, and just come back full speed and make plays like [the 57-yard interception return], it’s just great to see. I love it.”

(On Florida’s winning streak as motivation)

“I don’t really care about the win streak at all. We can only focus on what we can do now. This is a new team. We’ve only got 12 guys that have ever been down there … A lot of guys have never even played Florida. We’re not really focused on that right now. We’re just focused on being the best team that we can be.”

(On Florida game)

“It’s pretty special, it’s my first time going to The Swamp, I’ve never been down there before. Coach is getting us ready showing us videos of what it’s like playing down there. We play in Neyland Stadium which is one of the loudest stadiums in the country. I’m pretty sure it can’t get any louder than it does in our own stadium. We are going in with the mindset that this is our next game, the most important game, so we are excited to go play them.”

(On playing early)

“It helps you a lot; it gets your confidence up. You’re overall mindset when it comes to the game of football, you’re not really sure if your able to play on this level and having that success early on helps with your preparation going into games.”

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