Butch Jones appears to be very much a dead man walking at Tennessee. Going into what many were describing as a “must-win” game against South Carolina, the Vols looked incredibly bad on offense yet again — despite having two weeks to prepare, scoring only nine points. That performance, of course, followed Tennessee being shut out at home by Georgia two weeks prior.

Now Tennesse prepares to face the arguably the toughest defense in the nation on the road with a quarterback making his first career start away from Neyland Stadium. Good luck with that!

Here’s a summary of what the Tennessee coach had to say during Wednesday’s SEC Coaches Teleconference:

  • Opening statement: “Great, great challenge for us. The 100th game in this rivalry. They lead the SEC in total offense and total defense. This is a complete team with great depth.”
  • What have you learned about this rivalry since being at Tennessee? “This game means so much to so many people. We had to educate our players on what it means, to the date to the cigars. We went down there and came up short a few years ago. This game means so much to so many people.”
  • On Alabama’s elite rushing defense, can you run on them with John Kelly? “They are very disruptive up front. Fitzpatrick is as good of a player as there is in the country. We have to protect the QB, change things up. There’s a reason they are who they are. 3rd down conversations they are around 27% and have 10 interceptions. They play with confidence and it shows.”
  • Why do people forget about Damien Harris? “I have no idea. He’s fantastic, averaging 9 yards per carry, he even plays special teams for them.”
  • What have you seen from Alabama’s offense this year? “They play to their strengths, they have a great OL, they have depth at RB. They continue to evolve at the QB, he can hurt you with his legs and he has gotten better at throwing. Very explosive at the WR position.”
  • Is it tougher to rebuild an SEC program than you might have thought? “I think you have an idea of where you are at but you really don’t know until you get here. I think we’ve taken monumental steps there. We were nearly the first school to be hit with the NCAA’s APR. Understanding what it takes to win and the culture and I’m indebted to the players that helped along the way. Being 3-3 is not what we expect, it’s not the expectations here at Tennessee.”