The Tennessee Volunteers are 3-4. They are winless in SEC play thus far and face a tough matchup against No. 4 Alabama on Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The Vols’ roster is filled with young talent, with 23 true freshman seeing playing time this season, but still lacks experience to compete with top-tier programs.

During his weekly press conference Monday, head coach Butch Jones commented on his team through seven games. Jones, who is in his second season as Tennessee’s head coach, says the team is where he expected them to be.

“That is what I expected,” Jones said. “We are so youthful, they don’t know any better. They have no past experiences. It is kind of that unconscious incompetence. They don’t know, they don’t know. They just show up to work everyday. I have to rely on the older players.

That was kind of the talk with A.J. [Johnson] and Curt [Maggitt]. That they have seen this materialize before, what makes you different? What makes you a different leader? What are you doing different to lead? How have you learned from your past experiences? Because that is what great leaders do. Just that overall stability and leadership and hunger I see everyday. So it didn’t surprise me.”

Tennessee is coming off a 34-3 loss to No. 3 Ole Miss in Week 8. Despite the final score, the Vols had several opportunities early thanks to strong defensive stands. However, missed opportunities and a lack of offensive production kept Tennessee from scoring late as the Rebels offense found their groove in the second half.

“We thought we had great opportunities for a couple interceptions, we had the right defensive call with the right down-and-distance,” Jones said. “You know, robbing a dig route and we are waiting for it to be thrown and it is thrown and we kind of freeze in the moment. We have a long run down the sidelines and if our receiver continues to run off in the man coverage or block his guy there is a great chance we are going to score on that play.

“Missed passes, missed opportunities. So again, when your opportunities present itself you have to make plays. They understand that, they will come back to work today. But again we have to create our own opportunities. Those are opportunities that we out ourselves in position to make and we didn’t make. And that is how you win football games.”