Jones says that he is not responsible for the quality of the field.
By Lee Cox
No football team plays a perfect game every time it takes the field, and UT has proven they are no exception to this rule. While victorious in their last three game situations, the Volunteers have certainly not won pretty lately. But they have won, which in and of itself is a definite positive. For the second year in a row, the Vols are bowl eligible. However the way Tennessee won still left many with questions, especially the more hardcore fans.
When asked about Tennessee’s lack of intensity and struggle to get into a rhythm of late, Coach defended his team. “It is never as good as it seems or as bad as it seems. We were able to move the football. The times we weren’t it was one out of eleven. It would be one individual not executing their assignment. That’s why it’s a great team sport. Anytime you have eleven individuals being coordinated to work as one it takes great effort and focus on every single snap.” He continued positively, “It is a long season. You have to rely on your habits and your training. I think all of a sudden I can see the transformation in our football program now. Because now just winning isn’t enough, which probably is a good thing, it shows progress. From where we have come in this football program over the past ten years, I am never going to apologize for winning.”
The conditions on Shields-Watkins field was a sore subject for many fans. Coach Jones was asked no less than four separate occasions about Tennessee’s efforts to improve the surface. Jones reminded the press that he is a football coach; his focus is on Tennessee and will allow the facilities crew to focus on the field. “I am not a grass expert,” he said. “I can’t tell you one way or the other. I know they are meeting and working on improving it. They understand they need to improve it.” It was also pointed out that not one Tennessee player has suffered a knee injury on the current field. “Make no mistake about it. It is about the health of our student athletes.”
Coach Jones showed nothing but the utmost admiration for Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, who is coaching his final home game at Missouri this Saturday against the Vols. Pinkel, who was diagnosed with lymphoma, announced his retirement earlier this season which will undoubtedly give his players added motivation to defeat the Big Orange. Jones described the Missouri team as a very physical football team who have, “taken on the personality of their head football coach.” Coach Jones remembered his years as a young coach in the Mid-American Conference when Pinkel was coaching at Toledo. Jones greatly respected Pinkle for winning and always, “doing it his way.”
The Vols take on the Tigers in Columbia, Missouri, Saturday night.