Tennessee senior wide receiver Josh Smith met with the Knoxville media on Tuesday and touched on some of the Volunteers’ execution issues on offense.
Smith said he thinks the team has regrouped after coming out sluggish and “not ready to play” in a 41-0 loss to Georgia on Sept. 30.
“It’s the past, and we can’t live in the past,” Smith said. “We can’t end our season with Georgia. We still have seven games left, and we can still finish with a great record. It’s all the outside noise … They’re saying different things. But this team believes.”
It’s certainly a challenging time for Tennessee’s football team with pressure mounting to win — or possibly make a change to win in the future.
When asked to elaborate on that outside noise, Smith emphasized the team tries to block it out. However, it does affect players.
“They’re competing,” Smith said of Tennessee quarterbacks Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano. “What more could you ask from them? You’ve got fans wanting one quarterback, and some want the other. How do you want a kid to perform when you’re booing him? He’s 19 years old and y’all are booing him.
“That’s just hard, and I take that personal. I feel for both of them.”
The Vols’ senior pass-catcher also spoke about the pressure on his head coach, who has guided this team to a 3-2 record on the season. The Vols are winless in the SEC.
“We believe in Coach [Butch] Jones. He’s taken us from no-win seasons to bowl games,” Smith said. “I mean, like, what more could you ask for? Yeah, we’ve had a couple rough games, but that’s college football…”
Smith went on to say that some people don’t know the “meaning of the play” when they feel like blaming everything on the quarterback. He made sure to mention that it’s not all on the shoulders of the quarterback. It takes 11 players on offense to make it work.
“Y’all just see the quarterback … Our plays don’t just revolve around Quinten. It takes timing, spacing, routes, some receivers not doing their jobs … There’s blame in everything,” Smith noted. “It shouldn’t be just focused on the quarterback. We’re killing ourselves. It’s nothing we’re doing. It’s what we’re not doing.
“We’ve got to snap and clear, and move on.”
Smith did admit he was frustrated with the current situation on offense.
“I’m frustrated, but it’s at the point where … It’s not the play caller’s fault,” he said. “It’s so easy to blame anybody. But yeah, I’m frustrated. I’m a 5th-year senior getting three catches. Like, what? You have an NFL dream … It would be frustrating to anybody.
“But I care more about this team than I do myself.”