KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Once again, Tennessee displayed its resiliency last weekend at Texas A&M, erasing another 21-point lead with a chance to stay undefeated.
But turnovers (7 total), penalties (12 for 84 yards) and too many mistakes finally caught up with the Volunteers, who were finally burned playing with fire.
Tennessee fell to Texas A&M 45-38 in a double-overtime thriller on Saturday, and now the question is whether the Volunteers can rebound (physically with all the injures, and emotionally after three consecutive seesaw games) against No. 1 Alabama.
We’ll hear from coach Butch Jones shortly.
* “A lot of areas to improve on. Nothing has changed. I was really, really proud of our players. The effort, the mentality, the never-quit mantra. There’s not a lot of teams in the country that (could respond like that).”
* “I think that speaks volumes about our team” … Jones on erasing a double-digit deficit again.
* Jones disappointed with second-half run defense. Notes missed assignments, missed tackles.
* On the school-record 7 turnovers, Jones notes that most came in Texas A&M territory, exacerbated woes. “If you score 50 percent of those…”
* Tennessee will play fourth-straight game vs. ranked foe, second-straight vs. Top-10 team.
* “Jones on Alabama: They’re the No. 1 team for a reason.”
* Senior linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin still assessing options on shoulder injury. Jones refuses to say the WLB is done. “There needs to be no more tweets about it. No more discussion.”
* “This is the best Alabama team we’ll faced since we’ve been here.”
* “We’ve created a respect for Tennessee. … Not everyone can do it.” … Notes that Alabama is the same way.
* “Next man up” reference. Drink!
* “I’m not going to comment on injuries. I’ll no more as the week progresses. I don’t want to sit up here and tell you somebody is not injured and then they can’t show up. … We’re banged up. We’re battered and bruised.”
* “We thought (defensive tackles) Shy Tuttle and Kahlil McKenzie played their best football games the other night.”
* On turnovers: “It’s not a lack of effort. It’s not a lack of want-to. It’s individuals trying to make a play.”
* Jones calls senior defensive back Malik Foreman’s hustle forced-fumble “one of the plays in college football this year.” … “Embodies what we are as a team.”
* On missed tackles: “It’s details. It’s fundamentals. … It’s challenge during the season because very rarely are you in full pads.”
* Jones on Alvin Kamara (who had over 300 total yards and 3 touchdowns vs. Aggies): “I don’t think I’ve been around a performance like that. … He answered the call. … He was able to show his skill-set and we’re going to need that going forward.”
* On targeting: “They’e going to err on the side of precaution.” Sounds like he’s awaiting word from SEC on hit on Evan Berry Jr.
* On managing touches for Jalen Hurd, Alvin Kamara and John Kelly: “That’s a good problem to have.”
* Josh Malone, who dropped several passes against the Aggies, “It was not his best game. We expect him to bounce back.”
* On senior DT Danny O’Brien getting to fly back with the team on Saturday: “Relief.”
* Tennessee SID: “You didn’t watch the debate? Butch: “No. I was cringing watching Alabama.”
* Jones on playing starters on special teams: “We’re no different than any team we’ve faced.” … “Our special teams can have no drop off.”
* On if Darrin Kirkland and Colton Jumper, two MLBs, could play together? “Yes. We have to get the best 11 on the field.”
* Jones (thankfully) sidesteps Florida-LSU question, says he has full-faith in Commish Greg Sankey to make right decision for SEC, all members.
* On allowing explosive passing plays: “You can recover from a 15-yard run, but you can’t recover when the ball is thrown over your head.”