Butch Jones Midweek Press Conference

by UT Sports Information on September 23, 2015

in Tennessee Vols Football

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Coach Jones discussed the latest regarding Tennessee’s roster and the challenges awaiting the Vols in Gainesville.

Sept. 23, 2015

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones held his Wednesday press conference in the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio, answering questions regarding Tennessee’s personnel for Saturday and the challenges that await the Vols going up against Florida in The Swamp.

(Opening Statement)
“Good afternoon. Good to see everyone. I’ll start off with answering any questions you all may have.”

(On what it will take to continue to win the turnover battle)
“It’s absolutely critical. It all boils down to Maxim 1: The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. We talk about that everyday. Obviously, we have a Maxim 1 period in practice. But we have to be able to be opportunistic, take the football away, but then also on top of that is what you do once you generate the turnover. There’s also sudden change offense and that was an area last year where we struggled in. Football’s a game of momentum and I always talk about momentum plays. Every game comes down to two to three plays that can make the difference, but there’s also momentum plays. What do you do with the momentum plays? Do you give the momentum back or do you capitalize on the momentum and build upon the momentum that you have? We have to continue to be opportunistic and then offensively – I believe we have one turnover in three games – we have to hang on to the football. As we all know, we’re playing a great, great defense. I believe they’ve generated six turnovers as well this year and they’re very opportunistic. So it’s going to be a great challenge, but that’s the formula for winning. Turnover margin is the number one statistic in winning and losing football games.”

(On getting a pass rush with the front four and staying the lanes)
“We really, really stressed points on the quarterback, and just like having gap integrity in your rush defense, you have to have pass integrity, too, in your pass defense and in your rush defense. So again, maintaining the points on the quarterback. Will [Grier] does a great job in terms of scrambling. He made some big, big plays for their offense last week, so that’s going to be challenge in and of itself. Then if [Treon] Harris comes in the game as well, but we have to [maintain the points]. And then you had mentioned the ability to generate a pass rush with a four down front. That’s [where] Florida has the luxury. They’re able to do that. Whenever you can generate a pass rush with four down it allows you to do so many different things in the back end of your defense. We are continuing to work better from our stand point in terms of our defensive front, continuing to improve that part of our defense. When you are able to do that you have so many luxuries of many different things you can do in the back end.

(On how much having Cameron Sutton helps prepare the UT offense for Florida DB Vernon Hargreaves)
Cam Sutton is a great, great football player he’s a great, great competitor, and not only preparing for Florida but he makes us better each and every day. When we talk about the competition and how do you get better, it’s through your practice habits, it’s through your style of play, it’s through your preparation. Well, if I’m a wide receiver, every time I go one-on-one I want to go against the best. I want to go against Cam Sutton. Because at the end of the day that’s going to make you better. You look at all the great football programs, when we talk about competitive depth that’s where it lends itself to is in practice. And not only being a better an offensive unit or a defensive unit, but it makes both sides of the ball better. When you are able to go scout team periods, and you have individuals that are youngsters that are really good football players — Darrell Taylor has done a tremendous job all year from a defensive end standpoint on our scout teams. The ability to have an individual like Darrell Taylor over there, that makes your offensive line that much better. So just that overall competitive component that Cam Sutton brings, but we have to continue to recruit and develop a bunch of Cam Suttons.”

(On the importance of field position)
“It’s critical. Its going to be a field position game. It’s going to be three-and-outs and forcing turnovers. It’s also the special teams game. We have a formula for winning with this football team. That is why every football team is different. The formula in terms of playing winning football may not change, but the formula adapts to the personality and style of your football team. Field position is very, very important. We started from day one of training camp of really trying to stress the importance of field position and the percentages of scoring based on field position. In a game like this, field position is critical. Now, what you do with that field position is going to be just as important.”

(On confidence in rushing game compared to last two years)
“Our confidence continues to gain each and every week. It’s over a body of work and a period of time. We have great confidence in running the football, but it is also having great patience in running the football. We are playing a very deep and explosive defensive front. Sometimes, a two-yard gain is a good thing or the dirty yards of getting back to the line of scrimmage is good. The thing you can’t have is negative yardage plays when you run the football. That’s critical. Times when we have struggled running the football where when we had too many negative yardage football plays. When we have had success running the football, we have really limited negative yardage football plays. It comes down to that and the run efficiency of running for four yards or more.”

(On how Danny O’Brien has looked and health of injured players)
“Danny continues to progress. He will be on the trip. He will be on the travel roster, and he has continued to progress just like he had throughout the course of training camp. We anticipate him to play in the game. In terms of our health, Max Arnold continues to get more involved. Darrell Miller is questionable at this point in time from an injury that occurred a couple of weeks ago. He will be very, very limited. Alton Howard is an individual who, as the week progresses, we see how many repetitions he can give us. He is nursing some things. We will see as the week progresses. We still have a few days left of practice, so we will see a little more where we are at. I anticipate everyone to be available and ready to play, but it’s a practice-by-pracitce and hour-by-hour situation when you head out onto the practice field starting today.”

(On using last season’s 10-9 loss as a driving factor)
“That has never been brought up. Our players know what is at stake. They understand the challenge that we are facing going on the road, first SEC game, hostile environment, very talented football team and very physical football team. It’s going to be hot. All of those elements they understand. The players that did play in the game, they understand the intensity of the game, the physicality of the game, and that has probably been more [impactful] than anything. Just the intensity of the game and physicality of the game, which we talk about. Momentum plays are so big in games like this. Every game from here on out is a big game in the SEC. The thing you like to do when you are a little more established is rely on the seniors, the seniors who have been though these games. Well, we start three seniors in this football program, so the experience–a lot of these individuals, half our the travel roster is making their first trip to Florida and their first SEC road trip. Only 12 even accompanied us and played in the game a couple of years ago in Gainesville. They are still learning experiences. Missing Curt Maggitt, even though he will accompany us on the trip and he is at every practice and all that, but we have to rely on Brian Randolph and some of the youngsters — Jalen Hurd, Jashon Robertson and individuals that competed in the game last year.”

(On Preston Williams)
“He has more confidence. It’s hard to imagine Preston Williams with more confidence. I think he has more confidence in his technique, confidence in his schemes, confidence in his assignments. Our older players do a great job of holding him responsible and accountable to our style of play and our habits. Preston is eager and willing and wants to do it, wants the practice repetitions, wants to work. It’s the body of work. Here is a young man that didn’t have any training camp, so you have to pick your spots with him and the football endurance that goes with it. He is very prideful in his performance as is all of our players.”

(On Preston Williams displaying the evolution of the program)
“I didn’t recall that he committed on game day. Obviously we are very excited and proud that he committed to be a Tennessee Vol and are excited he is here, but everything is a relentless approach in building this football program–the recruiting aspect, the style of play. You have to be relentless in all that you do, and we will always continue to do that. That has been our program philosophy. Making great strides, but as we all know, a long ways to go. We are excited Preston is here, and he is doing some good things for us.”

(On the biggest growth in the offense since the Oklahoma game)
“I think we gained some confidence. I think that [we have grown in] the understanding of the `why?’ Of field position, taking care of the football, understanding desperation defense. You know, how do you attack in the fourth quarter when you have a lead? Dependence on each other, the importance for football stamina, the importance for fundamentals and details. You win with the small details, particularly in the fourth quarter. How you close out an opponent, all those things. I was asked that question, kind of, on the teleconference call. Is it part of your players just having a killer instinct? Can you develop it? And I thought both, but you have to be in those situations to develop it. Once you’re in those situations, what do you take from those situations? How do you learn from it, and how do you move forward? We need to move forward from it obviously, and learn from those situations, because as we all know, this football team’s going to be involved in a lot of close games coming down to the wire the rest of the season.”

(On what Trevarris Saulsberry brings to the program)
“First of all, he’s had a consistency in his approach. He hasn’t spoke too much about being from [Gainesville] or anything like that. He’s done a very good job of taking [knowledge] from the playing field to now, with a whistle around his neck. He does a very good job of getting around our players. He brings levity to the situation. He always has a smile on his face, so he’s made the transition. That’s all taking care of our players and keeping them around the program. He’s done a very good job of earning the right to that, but I know his relationships with our players and all that. It means a lot to our football team.”

(On Devaun Swafford’s career) 
“When you look at Devaun Swafford’s career, here’s a young man that was a walk-on and he starts in The Swamp at the University of Florida. We had to put him in a challenging situation and put him at nickel, he had never played that position before and he has an interception return for a touchdown. We asked a lot of him, some maybe unfair, unjust to him, but it was where we were at in the state of the program. He’s an individual who is very prideful, very competitive, and he worked himself each and every day to be the best football player he could be. By the end of last year, he was one of our best special teams performers and he was a true team player. Would do anything and everything you would ask of him for the football program and playing at the University of Tennessee meant everything to him. I still remember in the recruiting process of going through it with him and Malik Foreman and the different opportunities that he had and he just wanted to have the opportunity to represent his home state. Very, very high character individual. Devaun will be successful in any endeavor he chooses because of his character.”

(On the status of Jashon Robertson and if the younger players behind him are prepared to step in if need be)
“We fully expect Jashon to start the game and play the entire game. He’s had a very good week of preparation. You know, you have to pick your spots with him but he’s very, very intelligent. Today’s another big day for him but we fully anticipate him being ready to go. But also, you know, the continued growth and development of Charles Mosleyis very, very important and then also Jack Jones has done a very good job. Jack has had a very good week of preparation. That’s the thing that we see is we see all of our players continuing to develop and grow and get better and that’s a byproduct of the way we practice. I think it’s a byproduct of the youth development. Venzell Boulwarehad the best practice he’s had since he’s been here yesterday. Chance Hall continues to grow and get better and better and better. Every repetition is critical, especially for Chance having those live-game reps – even Jack having those live-game reps – really, really helped him last Saturday because now they truly understand, you know, what it is to play in a real game. But I’ve been encouraged by the development of all those kids.”

(On if he sees anything in Florida’s team that causes concern for Saturday)
“Yeah, everything [laughs]. Great, great team speed; a very, very good defense. They may be the best defense we’ve faced since we’ve been here and they’re very, very deep. They play 10 defensive linemen. They rotate them in. I think the addition of Cece Jefferson, a true freshman, has really elevated that whole group’s identity. I think the biggest change is – they’ve always been aggressive – I really, really like their linebackers. They really flow to the football – they’re downhill linebackers. Very, very physical. And we all know about their secondary. It’s well documented. You know, when Jimmy brought up the ability to generate a pass rush with four, they define that. They can play man coverage. It allows them to double cover, it allows them to do so many different things in the back end because they can generate a pass rush with four.

“They do some good things schematically and then offensively, you know, I think [Will] Grier continues to settle in as their quarterback. He can make plays with his legs, he’s got a live arm. And they have good skill. They do some different things schematically that create situational advantages with leverage sets and personnel groupings that we have to do a great job. So they’re a good football team. Obviously, we always look at special teams and they’re very athletic and have very good team speed across the board in all three phases. So it’s a challenge in and of itself, but I know we’re looking forward to that challenge as well. It should be a fun game.”

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