KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It’s officially game week.
With Tennessee kicking off the season on Thursday, the Volunteers are holding their usual Monday media session Saturday afternoon.
Coach Butch Jones will meet with reporters shortly, followed by several notable players.
Tennessee (kindly) released it’s Week 1 depth chart in advance of Jones’ presser. I’m sure that won’t lead to any questions.
- Butch Jones opens press conference honoring the slain police officer from the Maryville Police Department. Said he’s praying for Kenny Moats and his family.
- Tennessee will wear a commemorative helmet sticker to honor Pat Summit. “We all know what she stands for.”
- Chad Clifton, a Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer, will serve as UT’s Legend of the Game vs. App State.
- Wednesday pep rally outside Gate 21 A. 6:30 p.m.
- Jones rattling off App State’s prowess, notes the Mountaineers’ 4,000-yard rusher, conference player of the year candidates on both sides of the ball, No. 1 red zone defense, coming off an 11-2 season, etc.
- Asked how the team has improved since Outback Bowl win: “I’m anxious to see that.” Cites team’s maturity, potential improvement/efficiency in downfield passing game.
- “My coaches and ourselves, we know our football team a little bit more.”
- Jones confused about when App State knocked off Michigan. Thought it was 1997. Jones was in his first season at Central Michigan. “I remember that game very, very vividly.” Ha.
- As for 2016 App State: “All you have to do is put on the film and they garner your attention immediately.”
- Jones said he’s always cross-trained offensive linemen.
- Jones on App State coach Scott Satterfield saying Tennessee is further along (now) than when the Mountaineers faced Clemson in 2015. “That probably got your Saturday morning started off excitedly. … I know you guys will have fun with it.”
- Jones calls 2014 signing class (Jalen Hurd, Derek Barnett) a cornerstone group.
- Shy Tuttle: “He’s done a great job. I’ve been impressed. … He’s worked hard.” Jones said Tuttle even participated in cut-blocking drills, looked good.
- Jones stressing that every member of Team120 has a role. “Everyone’s job is important.”
- Tennessee LT Drew Richmond: “He’s come a long, long way.” Notes that redshirt reason was tough for the former 5-star recruit, but “realized that was a necessity.”
- Jones: “I trust these guys.” … “It’s better to be a player-player run team.”
- Alvin Kamara will get touches in a number of ways, per Jones.
- Tennessee’s receiver unit is “a work in progress,” Jones said. Wants 8-10 deep. Assistant coach Zach Azzanni said just last week he’s confident with 5 guys.
- Jones on depth chart: “We’ll continue to evaluate the offensive line.”
- Jones praising LaTroy Lewis and Jonathan Kongbo earning backup roles. Notes that Andrew Butcher has moved inside to DT.
- DE Kyle Phillips has “been setback with some nagging injuries.” Jones hopes to have Phillips back today.
- Alexis Johnson “continues to progress.” Tennessee is constantly evaluating the defensive tackle’s conditioning. Jones doesn’t say if Johnson will play Thursday.
That’s it for Butch Jones. We’ll hear from him against Monday before Thursday’s game.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com