KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee opens its much-anticipated 2016 season in less than 80 hours.
The No. 9 Volunteers host the Appalachian State Mountaineers, 11-2 last season, in primetime Thursday (7:30 p.m.) on the SEC Network.
With the odd game-week schedule, coach Butch Jones will addresses reporters live for the final time before the opener. Tennessee’s fourth-year head coach will also participate in Wednesday’s weekly SEC Teleconference.
As always, stay tuned for updates.
- Jones said team is still getting “game ready.”
- “Today is a very, very big day for us to be ready to play winning football on Thursday night.”
- Jones on defensive back Rashann Gaulden moving to nickel: “It puts him closer to the line of scrimmage.”
- The hot summer has impacted Tennessee’s practice preparation — for the good, per Jones.
- Jones on hot-shot freshman quarterback Jarret Gaurantano participating in ‘Circle of Life’ drill Sunday: “His look was priceless.” Jones again emphasizing sudden change, forcing team into unknowns. Said captains asked to do the drill before practice.
- With the Thursday opener, Jones has relied on “some” on his days at Central Michigan playing on several different days of the week.
- On if Tennessee has learned to close out games: “We’ll find out.” Jones stressing UT’s challenging schedule. “We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on it. … But we have to start fast as well.”
- Safety Micah Abernathy defines “consistency.” Sophomore earned a starting role after a great preseason camp. “He understands the defense. He’s a great competitor.”
- Jones (thankfully) kills Third Down for What? anthem. “We’re going to do some things a little bit different. We’ll have some different songs to get our crowd energized.”
- Missed this earlier, but Jones was very complimentary of kicker Aaron Medley. Jones believes he’s ready for a breakout year.
- Jones on true freshmen OL playing Thursday: “As of right now, probably not. No. Does that mean they won’t be ready Game 2, Game 3, Game 4? That’s a possibility.” Notes he’s excited about Marcus Tatum, Nathan Niehaus and Ryan Johnson but doesn’t believe they’re game-ready … yet.
- Tennessee DL Shy Tuttle, Alexis Johnson and Kyle Phillip will all “be ready” to play Thursday.
- Volunteers will wear the traditional orange and white uniform against App State.
- Junior left guard Jashon Robertson has worked some at left tackle this week, could serve as Drew Richmond’s backup until Chance Hall returns from injury.
That’s it for Jones. Check back soon for complete coverage of Jones’ presser, interviews with the coordinators and a Facebook Live session.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com