Knoxville, Tenn.(WVLT)-- Tennessee head coach Butch Jones and UT student-athletes spoke to reporters at Wednesday's press conference in the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio.
Jones discussed the No. 25/21 Vols' thrilling 42-41, double-overtime win over Georgia Tech on Monday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"First of all, I am very proud of the way our players fought back and their mentality," Jones said. "We found a way to win a football game after going through a lot of adversity, some of which we created for ourselves. Nonetheless, we were able to win the football game."
Tennessee scored 35 of its 42 points in the second half and overtime. In rallying back from a 14-point defense against a Georgia Tech team that controlled the ball for most of the game, the Vols needed to execute when it mattered most. UT also benefited from game-changing plays like Rashaan Gaulden's forced fumble with 4:50 remaining in the fourth and Paul Bain's blocked field goal with time expiring in regulation.
"When you look at the turnovers, you are always concerned about that in any game," Jones said. "We had zero turnovers on offense and took the ball away twice on defense, so we had a plus two turnover margin. We had a blocked kick. We were 5-for-5 in redzone efficiency. We knew we had to score touchdowns. We couldn't kick field goals in the redzone. We only had two penalties. We talked about playing a clean game and how that would give us an opportunity to win."
Jones and the Vols now turn their attention to Indiana State. The Vols host the Sycamores on Saturday at Neyland Stadium with a 4 p.m. ET kickoff on SEC Network. Indiana State is coming off a 22-20 loss to Eastern Illinois in its season opener on Aug. 31.
Jones and Indiana State head coach Curt Mallory both coached on the 2001 Central Michigan staff. Jones was the offensive coordinator and Mallory was the secondary coach.
"Indiana State is going to challenge us with different things like shifts and motions," Jones said. "They do a very good job, and I have a lot of respect for Curt Mallory, their football coach. He is a very close friend of mine. We coached together, and I know what he is all about. I know they will bring their A-game coming into Neyland Stadium."
Vols Among Nation's Best Over Last 20 Games
Tennessee is 16-4 over its last 20 games. UT is tied with Michigan, Wisconsin, Stanford and Washington for the nation's fifth-best record over the last 20 games. Only Alabama (19-1), Clemson (18-2), Ohio State (17-3) and Oklahoma (17-3) have a better record over that stretch.
Tennessee moved up four spots to No. 21 in the Week 2 Amway Coaches Poll. The Vols stayed at No. 25 in the AP Top 25's Week 2 poll.
Dormady Reflects On His First Start
Dormady, who had entered Monday's game with 10 relief appearances in his UT career, earned the win in his first start. He completed 20-for-37 for 221 passing yards and two touchdowns. The Vols completed a 14-point comeback thanks to big plays on defense and special teams and the offense's second-half surge. After halftime, Dormady went 12-for-17 for 169 yards with two touchdown passes to Marquez Callaway.
"Obviously there is a lot for us to improve on," Dormady said. "We will get better in this short week. Fighting back hard and getting the victory was awesome."
On Wednesday, Dormady discussed some areas that he thinks he can improve in for this week's game against Indiana State.
"For me, it's just making the easy throws," he said. "That's between me and the receivers by working on our timing. I think that getting back out there today, we will get things fixed. We just need to focus on making the routine plays."
Tickets Available for UT-Indiana State Game
Fans can still purchase tickets for Saturday's game between the Vols and the Sycamores. Tickets may be purchased online via AllVols.com or by phone by calling the Tennessee Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-332-VOLS.
Quotes From Wednesday’s Media Availability
"First of all, I am very proud of the way our players fought back and their mentality. We found a way to win a football game after going through a lot of adversity, some of which we created for ourselves. Nonetheless, we were able to win the football game. If you really go back and look at some of the nuances of the game and situational football, Rashaan Gaulden made one of the key plays of the game with his turnover. We got the football with 4:50 left on the clock, and we had to drive the ball 93 yards for a game-tying touchdown. When we took the field on offense, we knew that could possibly be our last possession.
"When you look at the turnovers, you are always concerned about that in any game. We had zero turnovers on offense and took the ball away twice on defense, so we had a plus two turnover margin. We had a blocked kick. We were 5-for-5 in redzone efficiency. We knew we had to score touchdowns. We couldn't kick field goals in the redzone. We only had two penalties. We talked about playing a clean game and how that would give us an opportunity to win.
"We had some individuals step up in some critical moments to make some big time plays. Now, where do we go. This week is paramount in terms of continuing to improve our football team. A lot of teams can make great improvements from week one to week two, and that is what we need to see. We need great improvements from all facets, starting off with special teams. Obviously, we have to do a much better job of tackling on defense. On both sides of the ball, we need to work on third down conversions and our overall physicality at the line of scrimmage. Those are a lot of things for us to continue to improve on as a football team.
"Indiana State is going to challenge us with different things like shifts and motions. They do a very good job, and I have a lot of respect for Curt Mallory, their football coach. He is a very close friend of mine. We coached together, and I know what he is all about. I know they will bring their A-game coming into Neyland Stadium. I think we found out in college football that you have to show up and be ready to play your best each and every week. The mental part, recovery part and physicality part are all things that this young football team needs to grow up and mature in. They have done a very good job to date. We are going to need to have a great couple of days of preparation here."
(On preparations talks in the SEC about the Hurricane Irma and the story behind the turnover trash can)
"First of all, with the inclement weather and hurricane coming, that is something that we are all watching. In terms of getting a call from the conference or anything, we have not received that, but I know we will have a plan in place. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone with what is coming and could happen.
"The trash can is something we have done for a year now. We had it last year. It's never meant anything disrespectful towards the opponent. It's just having a heightened awareness for turnovers and having some fun with it. Our kids enjoy it. If you go around the country, pretty much everyone does something like this, whether it's a heavyweight belt or a chain. There are a lot of schools who use trash cans. We felt we needed to hunt the ball better and get turnovers. We celebrate turnovers. We do a thing called shots on goal. We chart in practice and games how many ball disruptions that we have. It's something that is creating habits."
(On defensive line adjustments)
"I don't think I've ever been through a game where they had well over 80 rushing attempts. We have spoken about that as a staff, and we need to play more players, particularly on defense and the defensive front. It’s about your consistency and performance, and it starts in practice and earning the trust of the coaches and your peers. That’s something that we'll continue to coach, but moving forward, we're going to have to play a significant amount of others. I think some of it is experience, some of it is the first game. I think the game from a defensive stand point was completely different, so you need some maturity. You also need some experience to go through what those individuals were going through on a down-by-down basis, so as we continue to move forward and the season progresses you're exactly right. We're going to have play a lot more individuals. Depth could be an issue, but we do need to play more up front."
(On other players stepping up)
"Well, I think you could feel the energy behind John Kelly. He played with great passion and energy. He ran behind his pads, and I thought he really gave us a spark offensively. Trey Smith did some really really good things up front, not just from a physicality standpoint but from an energy stand point. I mean we score one touchdown, and he's high stepping and running to the end zone, and that's what we talk about. I thought Jashon Robertson played as good of a game as he played since he's been here. I thought Quinten Dormady did some really good things for us. We didn't start the game the way we wanted to. Defensively, we started the game fast, and we generated a couple three-and-outs. Our defense gave us great field position, and we weren't able to take advantage of the field position. It comes to growing and developing a football team. We have to catch the football on the perimeter. Dropped passes are like turnovers in our offensive, it stifles momentum. And then defensively, I give our defensive front a lot of credit for what they endured and what they went through and the amount of plays that they played, but it was a big spark to get Daniel Bituli in for his first significant playing time, and he took advantage of those repetitions. Rashaan Gaulden continues to play very well for us in the back end. We thought Nigel Warrior did some very good things for us, and then obviously Trevor Daniel, what can I say about him and the value he brings to this football team, having the ability to flip field position like we're able to do. Trevor Daniel had a very good game, as well."
(On Daniel Bituli and Darrell Taylor stepping up)
“Darrell Taylor had over 5,000 plus yards running in this football game, and that’s pretty remarkable for a defensive lineman. He was all over and there are some things we ask them to do whether it was fill in the triple option or the counter and some things like that, but again, he made the play he needed to. Again, everything is about consistency and preparation in your performance, Darrell has been doing that since spring football, and he’s really continue to grow and develop. I think it’s also a great indicator that we were able to redshirt him his freshman year, and so we had the luxury of not being able play him. I think he's reaping the benefits that year, in terms of a redshirt. In terms of Daniel Bituli, he works very very hard. His opportunity presented itself, and that’s what we talk about all our players about all the time as when you get that opportunity to perform whether it’s one play, whether it’s thirty plays, whether it’s fifty plays. You get an opportunity to put your identity on video, go take advantage of it. Both those individuals you just brought up definitely took advantage of their playing time, and we’re going to need those kinds of effort from them moving forward.”
(On ESPN’s analysis of the UT sideline during the game)
“No that’s not a gameday glitch. We’ve never had our backup quarterbacks on headsets. We’re only allowed so many headsets, if they are a student athlete the rules are a little bit different. A lot of schools actually use dummy headsets. That’s something that deals with the communication between coaches. I thought our quarterbacks did a nice job with Coach Canales on the sideline with some of the in game and halftime adjustments we were able to do. That is something that we practice all the time. If you guys remember being out at practice last week, we had the benches on the defensive sideline. We did that because we knew seven or eight minutes would run off the clock before our offence would go back onto the field. In terms of managing the two-quarterback system, they will continue to compete. There are a lot stories out there surrounding Jarrett, but let me tell you, Jarrett is a good teammate. He always has been. He is a competitor and he wants to be out there. He also has a tremendous amount of respect for everyone in this program. We want him to be able to compete. We found out after week one, with all of the injuries across the nation, your always one snap away from going into the game.”
(On his assessment of the offensive line after week one)
“It is still ongoing. I think our pad level was much better. If you look at how we ran the football, we were very efficient. I thought walking off the field at halftime that we had way too many negative yardage football plays. It seemed like there were many times we were at second and twelve, but we only had two negative yardage plays the entire game. We still must get much more physical on both the offensive and defensive lines. We showed great progress upfront. We must do a better job at using our hands. As we go from Game 1 to Game 2 those are some of the fine details we need to improve on. We talked about having the will to win, and I think our football team showed our will to win.”
(On Jauan Jennings and Drew Richmond)
“Drew will be ready to play. I’m excited to get him back into practice and competing. He will be available for the game. In terms of Jauan’s injury, it is indefinite and that’s all I can say at this time. I really can’t get into specifics.”
(On message to QB Jarrett Guarantano after not playing)
“The message is always the same. You’re always one snap away and you have to be ready. It’s the first game that he’s really been in that situation, and Quinten (Dormady) went through the same thing in his process as well behind Josh (Dobbs). I think that sometimes you’re antsy, you’re ready to play, you have some anxiety, you’re going through everything in your mind. We always tell them, ‘you’re one snap away.’ We knew this game, like we talked about last week, the nuances of this game would be completely different. We knew our possessions would be very limited. Then all of a sudden we have a couple of receivers go down and we have a couple of O-linemen go down and they were able to come back in the game. These are the little things that was really encouraging. We have a big play down in the red zone area, and then Marcus (Tatum) has to go out for a play or two, and Venzell Boulware goes in there and does a very good job, and all of a sudden Jack Jones has to go from left guard to right tackle the next play, and we were able to do that. Always in first games, you’re worried about that type of substitution, the substitution patterns. Can they handle that? I thought our players adapted and adjusted very well.”
(On logic behind icing Georgia Tech kicker before potential game-winning field goal)
“You’re kind of a by-product of your experiences. When I was at Cincinnati, (Bengals head coach) Marvin Lewis and I did an in-depth study on when to ice the kicker. We did a four-year study of college football and professional football, and usually what happened was if you’re going to ice an inexperienced kicker, you would wait right to when they snapped the football and you call a timeout. If it was an experienced kicker, you’d just call timeout immediately. So we’re playing at Louisville, and we’re going to call a timeout to ice the kicker regardless. The young man was struggling, so I did our study and I called timeout right when he snapped the ball, but when he snapped the ball, he snapped the ball over the holder’s head, and everyone went crazy. That was the topic: ‘if you wouldn’t have called timeout, they wouldn’t have won the football game,’ because the next play, they had a perfect snap and he made the kick. I knew we had two timeouts. Sometimes, you want the kicker thinking you’re going to ice him and you don’t call timeout. Sometimes, you may only use one timeout, sometimes you’re going to use two timeouts. It was kind of a gut-feel thing at that moment to use two timeouts.”
(On health statuses for Kendal Vickers, Evan Berry, Shy Tuttle, and Josh Smith)
“I would say right now at this point in time, all of them are questionable. They’ll be available for some part of practice today. Some, we’ll keep in for treatments and just get them out there for team periods. I’ll know a little bit more later in the week, but there is a possibility that they could play. Again, I think our training staff has done a really good job. The game ends, and I don’t even remember what time it is. We went and we set up ice tubs in the locker room after the game, the NormaTec’s. We tried to do all of our recovery in Atlanta at the stadium. By the time we get back here, it’s Tuesday morning. Then all day long, we’ve been pounding the treatments in the training room. Our kids have done a very good job, and same thing this morning. So I’ll know a little bit more as the week progresses.
(On what position Daniel Bituli will play in Week 2)
“The advantage now is he knows both Sam (outside linebacker) and Mike (middle inside linebacker). Again, he’s going to come in and compete, and you can never have enough competition. So he will play more Mike against a traditional offense.”
(On junior transfer Paul Bain’s development and field-goal block on Monday night)
“I just remember him coming here with his family and wanting to be a part of our football program. Obviously, (he’s) a good person, really strong character. I think it’s a great story, a young man who has two jobs to make ends meet. This program is very important to him and the sacrifices that he and his family have made to be a part of this football program. Here’s an individual on a national stage to get the opportunity on a field goal block to go in there, and delivers and responds. It was really rewarding in the team meeting yesterday when we showed the clip, and just the amount of respect he has from his teammates was a pretty neat thing to see. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, his family and the sacrifices they’ve made.”
(On how other receivers stepped up following Jauan Jennings injury)
“I think the first individual that we’re going to rely on even more than we did Monday night is Josh Palmer. He’s one of those individuals that we’ve seen it all throughout training camp, and we’re going to need his productivity. So him, Marquez Callaway, when Latrell Williams was in there he did some good things and that was Latrell’s first game, Brandon Johnson is an individual who’s been very consistent, and moving forward we’re going to give Jeff George a great opportunity to show what he can do. Again, we’re down numbers there, we’re very limited there now, so we’re going to have to move some individuals around. We’re going to go ahead and play Jordan Murphy as well. It’s going to be a very young group. Josh Smith will be back out at practice today, so I think his maturity, him being a veteran in our football program hopefully will help the maturation of that young core. As the game progressed, I thought they got better and better, but at the end of the day, when that ball is in the air, we have to own that ball in the air. We have to be able to catch the football and you saw the difference in halves. When we were able to make plays, we were able to spark the entire football team.”
Junior QB Quinten Dormady
(On how his first start went)
“Obviously there is a lot for us to improve on. We will get better in this short week. Fighting back hard and getting the victory was awesome.”
(On what can he improve on the most going from game one to game two)
“For me, it’s just making the easy throws. That’s between me and the receivers by working on our timing. I think that getting back out there today that we will get things fixed. We just need to focus on making the routine plays.”
(On how does the short week affect the team)
“I don’t think it is affecting us too much, we just need to make sure our guys are in the training room getting healthy again.”