Entering Butch Jones’ fourth season on Rocky Top, this was supposed to be the year for Tennessee. After dropping its third consecutive league game Saturday night in Columbia, by a final score of 24-21, the Vols look to be far more pretender than contender.
The game ultimately came down to what would have been a career-long 58-yard field goal attempt for junior kicker Aaron Medley. The end results of the play were predictable:
The kick is NO GOOD!
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 30, 2016
With this loss, Tennessee needs Florida to lose on the road to both Arkansas and LSU and win out to reach Atlanta as SEC East champions. If Saturday night’s play was any indication, the Vols will likely struggle mightily to beat Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt to close out its SEC slate.
Good luck with all that…
Following the tough loss, Jones faces some difficult questions about his team moving forward. Here are some of the comments from Jones’ post-game press conference, including the Tennessee coach taking ownership for his team’s poor performance:
“Unacceptable,” Jones said. “Everyone is responsible for this. Give South Carolina credit but this was unacceptable.”
Surprisingly, junior running back Jalen Hurd did not play in the second half and only played sparingly in the first half. While sophomore John Kelly played well, Jones seemed to indicate they carefully managed Kelly’s touches in the game.
“We were trying to make it through the game with one running back,” Jones said. “Obviously Carlin (freshman Fils-aime) got in there, you have to pick your spots.”
Senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs had his worst performance of the season, going 12 of 26 for 161 yards and two interceptions – Dobbs also lost a fumble that was recovered by the Gamecocks.
“It’s a line of scrimmage league,” Jones said. “They were able to play some man coverage and Josh wasn’t able to set his feet in the pocket.”
"We can't let this one loss define who we are. But, obviously too sloppy." Butch
— Paul Fortenberry (@Volquest_Paul) October 30, 2016
Butch Jones: "You mark my words as I sit here in South Carolina: there's a lot of football left to be played."
— Josh Ward (@Josh_Ward) October 30, 2016
Strong words from Jones to close it out but judging by the team’s performance in recent weeks, they ring very hollow at the moment.