By David Bradford
Nobody needed a bye week more than Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.
After experiencing a 41-point pounding at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs at home, Jones has very little (if any) wiggle room.
During his weekly Monday press conference, Jones confirmed a key suspension, discussed the team’s performance throughout the bye week, and dropped another one of his classic Butchisms.
Darrell Taylor suspended
Defensive end Darrell Taylor is suspended after kicking teammate Trey Smith in the face during a practice kerfuffle last week. According to Jones, there is no timetable on his return, which is a devastating blow for a Vol defensive line that was already struggling at generating a consistent pass rush.
Quarterback battle ensues
Five games into the season, Jones has yet to find 100-percent confidence in either Quinten Dormady or Jarrett Guarantano.
According to Jones, the battle was a 50/50 split between two during the bye week, with that split now shifting to 60/40, whatever that means.
“We need command from our offense,” Jones said. “… we need decision-making decisions from our quarterbacks.”
Jones even mentioned 3rd-string quarterback Will McBride, who he said was “one pass away” from playing, which is an extremely frightening thought for Vol fans out there.
Along with mentioning McBride, Jones dropped another one of his classic lines — “You don’t have to get a physical rep to get a rep. You can get a leadership rep.”
Leadership rep? Really?
Here’s all that needs to be said about that:
How many Leadership Reps does it take to become a Champion of Life?
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 9, 2017
Productive bye week
After a 49-10 shellacking from Alabama last season sent the Vols to 5-2, many dubbed their ensuing bye week as “much needed.”
Obviously, it didn’t matter, because after a pair of Joshua Dobbs all nighters, drama from running back Jalen Hurd and a week of poor preparation, Tennessee was stunned by South Carolina, 24-21.
Fast forward to this season’s bye week, and Jones appears a lot more optimistic.
“That was one of the best bye weeks we’ve had in a very, very long time,” Jones said.
Granted, the quotes weren’t that much different last season. No coach under as much scrutiny as Jones will admit to an atrocious bye week, but how the Vols play against South Carolina on Saturday could potentially manifest itself into a last-straw scenario. If Tennessee looks as out of sync and unprepared as they did against Georgia, Jones’ future in Knoxville is practically nonexistent.
Jones addresses strength of locker room
Because of Taylor’s suspension, a rash of transfers over the years and the overall poor play of the team this season, rumors have swirled addressing the strength of Tennessee’s locker room. Before Jones addressed the issue to the media, offensive lineman Marcus Tatum chimed in on Twitter.
Our locker room is just fine.
— Marcus Tatum (@AsapTatum) October 7, 2017
On Monday, Jones echoed an identical sentiment.
“The team is strong,” Jones said. “The locker room is strong… they’re (the players) as strong and as committed as they’ve ever been.”