#MediaMonday: Arkansas Prep Begins

by UT Sports Information on September 28, 2015

in Tennessee Vols Football

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Butch Jones, Joshua Dobbs, Kyler Kerbyson, and Brian Randolph addressed the media on Monday at the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio.KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football kicked off Arkansas week with #MediaMonday as Vols coach Butch Jones and select players took part in a press conference at the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio.

Jones was joined on Monday by quarterback Joshua Dobbs, defensive back Brian Randolph and offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson.

(Opening Statement)
“Good to see everyone. Going back, reviewing the Florida game, then on to Arkansas. Reviewing the video, I thought we played well enough to win the football game. We played well in all three phases: offense, defense, special teams. It comes down, again, to closing games out, which we’re all aware of, and we had many opportunities to do that.

“In order to improve and correct this, we must own it. It starts with me first and foremost, and it starts with everyone within our football organization. Really, really proud of our players. They’re putting themselves in positions to win. We just have to perform at the critical moments, the critical junctures of the game, but with their effort, their style of play, [I’m] very, very proud of them. We’re going to continue to need that, and more so as we continue to move forward.

“I thought there were a lot of positive things coming from the game. Unfortunately we came up short. One play short. As we know, winning is fragile and inches make the champion, which we talk about. There were a lot of plays where there were inches, but when you just look at our offensive performance, we only had three three-and-outs the entire day. We had a 16-play touchdown drive, a nine-play scoring drive, an eight-play scoring drive. We were 7 out of 16 on third downs, and we were 4 out of 5 on third down conversions in the fourth quarter. We had 250-plus rushing yards against a defense that was giving up 53 yards per game and [ranked] top one or two in every statistical category in this great football conference.

“Defensively, [our players] did a great job on third down. We were off the field 80 percent of the time, so they were 20 percent on third down conversions. 65 percent on first down efficiency defensively, six tackles for loss and three sacks, but as we know, it came down to fourth down conversions. Again, we have to get off the field, but [we’re] very proud of our players [and] their resiliency. [They] had all that adversity occur, and then came back at the end of the game in a one-minute offensive situation, and got us in position to win the football game, so a lot of [positive] things to move forward.

“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. We’re playing a very, very talented Arkansas football team. [They’re] very physical, very big. [They have] the ability to control the clock. I think they have one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He’s a three-year starter. He’s managing their offense. Bret [Bielema] has done a phenomenal job of building that program. They’re basically in the same situation as we are. They’ve had some gut-wrenching losses where they could’ve won the football game, and it’s a play here, it’s a play there.

“[They’re] very, very aggressive on defense, very big, can play man coverage. Very good in special teams, and we all know their offensive line is very, very big. They have one of the premier running backs in our conference, and they’re going to come in here ready to play, just like we’ll be ready to play. It should be a heck of a football game on Saturday, but they have our full attention. Very, very talented, very physical, and it’s going to take everything and more. They present many problems defensively for us, in terms of their style of play, their personnel, and also what they do schematically defensively as well.

“I’ll answer any questions you may have.”

(On the status of Pig Howard and Cameron Sutton)
“Pig is still day to day. I’ll know a little bit more today exactly where he is at. Cam Sutton we anticipate him being ready to go. I think a lot people, it’s easy to guess and be right. I want to set the tone right now, he does not have a broken jaw- that is absolutely false.”

(On declining penalties that would have backed the offense up)
“Well, great question but when you’re coming out of you own end, most of the penalties have been where they have been inside the ten yard line. So, if it’s a ten yard penalty or fifteen yard penalty, it’s not that yardage. So, I believe we had situation where we could have had first and thirteen or second and nine and we felt it is more important to have the downs. So, just to educate you a little bit on that, it is half the distance to the goal line, so a lot of times based on the type of offense you’re playing sometimes you’re willing to give up three or four yards for the down. That’s what happened in the Florida game and the Oklahoma game as well.”

(On confusion in the last 1:21 in the game only getting four plays off)
“I thought we did great job of managing the game and getting it down there and giving us an opportunity. There was some moments with some communication problems from the officiating crew to the coaching staff in terms of clock stoppage. There’s a number times where we thought the clock should have been stopped on first downs. I think there was some of that going on, but again we put ourselves in position to where we had to to win the football game. It’s a very difficult kick. We understand that. Aaron does a great job. He’s made those in practice and he will make those in his career, but you know I think there was some things from a communicative standpoint of: stopping the clock, is he out of bounds was he in bounds?, some things like that.”

(On Joshua Dobbs have as much freedom to audible as he did last year and the teams confidence possibly being shaky in the fourth quarter)
“He does Jimmy, he has freedom on certain plays and a lot of times there are built in audibles within one play. He can have three options on one football play. A lot of times the structure of the defense will dictate the options he gets to, so that’s the equivalent to an audible. He probably has more in terms of that than he did last year and that’s just because of experience and he can handle that. In terms of confidence in the fourth quarter and closing games out, we have to learn from these experiences. We’ll go back to work today and we’ll talk about it, we’ll dissect it, we’ll look into everything. Football has way of equalling itself out we will win our share of games in the fourth quarter as well, but we just need to stay positive. Our team has great resiliency and competitive spirit. We will continue to improve on that. I know we have to improve on it. It start with us as coaches as well.”

(On the confidence and trust levels with the passing game)
“We want to be able to throw the ball more down the field, that’s really a big part of us offensively. I can tell you this: everyone wants to look to the receivers and the quarterback. It takes all 11 individuals working together. You know sometimes we have those plays called and we don’t get them off one way shape form or another. It’s not just the offensive line either; it’s 11 individuals working together as one. But we take great pride in our passing game. We want to be a receiver oriented offense. That’s if you look at our nature, if you look at our history, the receivers are a big part of it. You’re talking to a head coach who’s a receiver coach, so I understand, you know, what they’re going through, I understand that. But, we’ll work to get better at it. We’ll continue to work on our throw game. We need to continue to improve on that so we’re well aware of that. And that’s going to be a work in progress. You know, we’re a little bit behind. I believe we only played four wide receivers in the game with injuries, so I give those kids a lot of credit. They had to suck it up, play a lot of plays, and play our style of play. But we do need to get the ball to them much more, and we’ll continue to work on that.”

(On missed tackles in the fourth quarter)
“Any time you take Cam Sutton out of your defense– he’s a great great football player, but it just comes down to execution of fundamentals and what it takes to play winning football. The completion didn’t get us beat; it was leveraging the football that got us beat. Again, it’s leveraging the football, it’s putting the eyes on the thighs, and it’s running your feet on contact. We had too many missed tackles in the fourth quarter, and we allowed too much run after the catch. That’ll be a point of emphasis like it is every week, and working on tackling, the fundamentals, and the discipline that goes into that.”

(On what stood out to him on fourth downs)
“I think it is a combination of each fourth down play having a story of its own. There was one play where they threw the ball to the tight end, and our players were in the perfect coverage and our defender is right there. It’s a quarterback throwing the ball on his back leg and a player making a great play on the ball in the air, and you couldn’t defend it any better. To our player’s credit, he was right where he needed to be. They just made a play. On the fourth and long, we were supposed to be robbing the dig area, and we looked the wrong way — the eye discipline that we talk about — and they were able to capitalize on that. The completion is made, we need to rally and get the ball down and force them, i believe, 20 yards to go. I think it was a combination of little things: eye discipline, understanding the situation, what they are going to run. That’s the thing; we did such a great job to generate those fourth down plays. We did a great job on third down, now we need to capitalize from what we did on third down to fourth down, and we will continue to work on that.”

(On how he reacts to criticism)
“It’s not about me. It’s about our players and everyone in our football organization. I am the head football coach, and I am responsible for anything and everything. I would say put it all on my shoulders. I want it all on my shoulders. I want to free up our coaching staff to coach. I want to free up our players to play. That is part of the responsibility here. We have been through this, but I see our progress. I am responsible; put it all on me, so our players can go play and our coaches can coach. That’s the responsibility of being the head football coach.”

(On if he thinks the coaching staff coached well enough to win)
“I do. I think we all did. Again, it’s one or two plays. We are two plays, or 10 seconds, away from being 4-0, but we are 2-2. We can’t let two plays or 10 seconds define who we are. We have to continue to work and grind. I thought our coaching staff had a great plan going in. If you look how we limited them offensively, if you look at what we did offensively, it just comes down to one or two plays. I hurt for the kids because it’s all about them. Players are resilient, and for us, it’s gut-wrenching, but we have to move on. For the fans, they have a week to dissect the game. [The media] has all week to dissect the game and talk about. As coaches and players, we have 24 hours and have to move one because we have a very talented and hungry team coming in here in Arkansas. We have to put all of our effort into preparation.”

(On Darrin Kirkland Jr. not starting the game)
“Well we just thought that going into our first SEC game and being on the road, and again you guys get all caught up in who starts, its just who takes the first snap and we just felt that in terms of communication, knowledge of the entire defense and Darrin continues to get better and better we wanted to ease him into the flow of the game but again it’s an organizational chart as now you guys remind me every week, not a depth chart so it’s basically you know putting the players in position to succeed and we just felt from a comfort level that he would be able to ease into the game much better.”

(On defending tight ends Jake McGee of Florida and Hunter Henry of Arkansas and how the team could better defend tight ends)
“Well you’re exactly right, he is the best tight end in the country and he is going to play in the national football league for a very very long time and they do a great job structurally of getting him the football he’s one of their play makers so we have to make sure he is accounted for in every set and they do a very good job with different personnel groupings to try to isolate him they do a great job of picking match ups for him and so we have to do a very good job of who’s on him all the time and the eye discipline in because they do so much run action pass and you know what they try to do is put the run pass defender in conflict so we have to play with great discipline and know where he’s at all times because he is a great football player.”

(On the young team learning how to win SEC games)
“Well again Seth that’s a really good question and first of all I think it takes doing it. It takes another South Carolina moment for last year’s team and you have to have one of those moments where you do learn how to win where you do make a play. As a coaching staff we have to do a great job of trying to simulate as many game like conditions as possible, conditioning the mind for the fourth quarter you know if you look at the body of work of this coaching staff I want to say we were fifty something and four of having a lead going into the fourth quarter and I’ve never been through anything like this neither have our players in terms of this and football rewards diligence. Football rewards those individuals who persevere the only thing I can say is keep working we have a fourth quarter period in practice we’ll continue to make it a point of emphasis. I know its important to our players it’s important to everyone in our football program but you try to learn from it we’ll make a cut up we’ll show a video and we”’ ask the question why you know why weren’t our eye on this, what were you thinking in this situation and we go back and we dissect all our calls whether its offense, defense or even special teams as a coaching staff in the fourth quarter you know if we had to do it all over again did we put our kids in this great position to succeed. So you look at anything and everything but it comes down to doing it and we’ve done it in the past so you know although it was last year we have to rely on our older players, which we will, but we just need to continue to make it a point of emphasis.”

(On coaches breaking down film)
“The game ended, and we were in here Sunday at 7 a.m. We went home at about midnight. We dissect everything. Every play is dissected, evaluated, gone through. I looked at everything. Is it a fundamental mistake? Is it a technique mistake? Is it an effort standpoint? Is it a bad play call? We put our players in positions to succeed. Everything that we do is looked at. Everything we do is under a microscope. It starts with me with all the decisions we make, and it starts with our entire coaching staff. We sit in a room and critique every single play, every technique as a coaching staff. That is all part of getting better and moving forward. We have always done it that way.”

(On the illegal substitution call on the final drive)
“There were obviously a lot of instances that occurred, and we obviously had to burn a timeout early on to avoid the ten-second runoff. It was just a communicative aspect. Did they rule him inbounds or out-of-bounds? We have addressed that situation and the situation where they had 12 individuals on the field for the attempted field goal. We have reviewed all that, and that is all part of learning from it and moving on.”

(On third-down play call on offensive possession up 27-21)
“We have what we call a four-minute offense and within that, we are trying to protect the lead and gain some field position. It was a situation in which we felt very comfortable that we thought running the clock. If you throw the ball and it’s an incomplete pass, now it stops the clock. We wanted them to use their timeout so that when they gained the ball back, they had very few timeouts left. There is a lot that goes into that. We had great confidence in our run game if you look at what we were able to do. Unfortunately, we had three-and-out and had to punt the football, but we were also able to get them to chew up some of their timeouts and move the clock down as well. That’s opponent by opponent, but we do have an offensive game plan for that type of situation.”

(On balancing being close to being 4-0 and objectively looking at your team to get better)
“Well first of all you have to be realistic. You have to step back. I always firmly believe this, you have to take the emotion of everything. It’s an emotional game and you invest a lot in it. You put your heart and soul into every single game. You invest so much in your preparation, in your practice, in everything that goes into it. So you have to take the emotion, you have to remove yourself. You have to go into a quiet room, in a think tank and revisit everything and kinda see where your going. I think when you step back there is a lot of positive things. Like I said, our players are giving themselves a chance by their style of play, by their effort. Right now were performing very well on special teams. I wanna say, were are top three in every special teams category in the SEC. In some were top fifteen in the country in every category. That doesn’t happen by chance. That’s investment of your players in everything that’s going on. That’s them understanding their roles in your football program So that’s a lot of positive things. It hurts because these kids have invested so much and you’re a play or two away, but you also can’t get caught up in that. It is what it is. We have to own it, like I said early in the press conference, and we move on. But if your a competitor, which we all are, it fuels you everyday to come to work, and to get better, and to continue to improve. And I see the improvement. Last year we were I 2-3 at one stage in the game. We were 3-5 at one stage in the game. So you have to continue to go. Sometimes the greatest things never turn out the way you had planned. So again your constantly evaluating and you find out more. You really find out more about everyone through adversity. So really this is where you learn, this is where you grow, and it’s unfortunate. But we have great competitors in our football family and I know we’re looking forward to getting back at it today.”

(On any wide receivers who made the trip to Florida being hurt)
Johnathon Johnson has been nursing a hamstring and he was available only really for emergency. So we weren’t able to use him like we would like too. We had some other individuals that go down throughout the course of the game. We expect them back. We need to continue to get our health back there as well, because there a big part of our offense and like we talked about we need to start utilizing them more.”

(On the whether coaching is different in the SEC as opposed to the Big East or MAC)
“It’s not. I think the difference is level of scrutiny. Everyone second guesses everything that you do. That’s the nature of the game. I understand that. But football is football. Everyone has a right to an opinion. I think were putting ourselves in positions to win the football game. I tell you this, if I worried about scrutiny and all that, I wouldn’t have went for a jump passion fourth-and-two. You can never allow that to dictate. As a coach, your always trying to put your players in positions to succeed. I believe we’ve played aggressively. I think the first half is a indicator of that. Those aren’t trick plays. Those are momentum plays. Those are plays that we carry in our offense week-to-week and our players did a great job of really executing them. But you can’t worry about the outside clutter and the outside distractions. We live in a week-to-week season. Love is conditional. I understand that. You just have to keep grinding, grinding your way through it and that’s the only way I know. I understand that’s part of the game. I welcome that. I have big shoulders. Put that all on my shoulders so our players can go out and perform on Saturday.”

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