Mike Ekeler did not mince words Monday evening following Tennessee’s win over Austin Peay.

But he wasn’t talking about Week 2. He was addressing punter Jackson Ross’ rough performance in Week 1 against Virginia.

Ross, who is from Australia and can kick ambidextrously, shanked a few punts and gave the Hoos excellent field position all game. But that’s not on Ross, per Ekeler. That’s on himself.

“First game, I screwed it up, that’s on me,” Tennessee’s special teams coordinator said, via On3 Sports. “I don’t point a finger, I point a thumb, and that’s on me.”

Ross did better in Week 2, electing to punt with his left foot rather than his right. A few were still questionable, but it was a major improvement from Week 1.

And Ekeler expected nothing different. Ross had 4 punts for 43 yards against the Govs, a massive improvement from 5 punts for an average of 35 yards in Week 1.

More than anything, Ekeler is preaching patience from Vol Nation regarding Ross’ case. He insists that the Aussie punter will be a weapon for the Vols sooner rather than later.

“It’s pretty special,” Ekeler said. “When he gets settled in, I promise you this, that guy’s gonna be a damn weapon for us. He’s impressive.”

Tennessee faces its first real test of the season in Week 3 as the Vols travel to the Swamp to take on the Florida Gators. Tennessee downed Florida last year but has struggled in the Swamp recently. Have you heard the stat that Tennessee hasn’t won at Florida since 2003 yet?

But Tennessee, despite its struggles last Saturday, is objectively the more talented team this time around. It’s just a matter of putting it together in a hostile environment where the Vols have historically struggled.

Let’s see if Joe Milton and Co. are up for the challenge. The game is set for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN Saturday.

Read More

Tennessee sports betting officially launched on November 1, 2020. Tennessee was the first SEC state to legalize sports betting.