By Lee Cox
The fog of negativity which has hung over the University of Tennessee football program seemed to have cleared a bit from Coach Butch Jones’ Monday press conference. Georgia is now in the rear view mirror, but Alabama looms ahead like a large crimson Elephant blocking the road to Tennessee’s next victory.
Coach Jones seemed realistic, yet resolute, having only good things to say about his team, He was also very respectful towards Alabama.”The term that comes to my mind when I watch Alabama on video is “impressive.””
“(They are) an impressive football team. I think the statistics and their body of work speaks for themselves. When you talk about them, first of all defensively, they are first in total defense in our conference and I believe sixth overall in the country. They are first in rush defense, giving up only 70 yards per game. They’re only giving up 16.7 points per game. The thing that is impressive is their 16 takeaways and four of those have resulted in touchdowns. They lead the conference with 12 interceptions, and they are No. 1 in our conference in pass defense efficiency.”
On offense he had only good things to say about Alabama’s quarterback Jacob Coker.“He’s performing at a high level. I see a confidence in him, and it shows.”
Not forgetting Tennessee’s own QB, Coach Jones spoke of Joshua Dobbs’ mentality, ”He’s a straight-lined individual. He’s never too high, he’s never too down, and I think that provides stability for your offense ,(and) for your players. They know what to expect. Josh is very consistent in his approach.”
“I also thought he grew up a lot last week against Georgia. He was really holding players accountable in a very, very positive fashion, a very constructive fashion, which was great to see. That’s what we need from him. I thought he was in control, but that’s Josh Dobbs. But I thought from a leadership standpoint and a mentality standpoint, he’s done a good job with that but I thought he took it to another level in the Georgia game. And we’re going to continue to need that as the season progresses.”
One interesting storyline concerns running back Alvin Kamara, a formerly member of the Crimson Tide, now playing at UT. I asked Coach Jones if Kamara had any extra motivation going into this game. “Well, you know Alvin is a competitive of a young man as we have in our football program. I know when he talks about his time at Alabama, he talks about the respect that he has for that football program. He still has a number of friends on that football team, but really we don’t talk about it a lot. Alvin, is a very determined very confident young man, but he’s very focused and very determined, and he doesn’t talk much about the past. Everything is about the present and moving forward, and that’s what I like about him. So, I don’t see his approach changing at all from this game to any other game.”
It’s challenging to be using freshmen Chance Hall and Jack Jones on the line, but if the offense’s overall performance against Georgia can be repeated, and perhaps improved on, Tennessee may just have a glimmer of hope.
The key however, will be Joshua Dobbs and his ability to move the ball either in the air or by ground. He needs another breakout performance for Tennessee to have a shot at victory on Saturday. Can it happen? The Vol Nation eagerly waits to find out…