KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The urgency in Butch Jones’ voice was obvious Friday afternoon.
“We have zero continuity on offense, and we have to step it up there,” Tennessee’s coach said after his team’s 10th practice of the fall session. “I trust that we will, but it’s not up to our expectations, so the next few practices are monumental.”
The Vols got offensive tackles Marcus Tatum (foot) and Trey Smith (head) back from injuries, and tackle Brett Kendrick (ankle) continues to practice after a setback last week.
But the scrimmage action has been limited, and Jones said Friday he’s still not certain if the team will hold the scrimmage it had scheduled for Saturday.
“This team has to continue to grow and mature and the next few days are going to tell us a lot,” Jones said. “There can be no bad days, no poor practices.
“Championship football teams come out here with a mentality, and this is where your toughness is tested.”
Jones said for Tennessee to meet its goal of being an improved football team, the players will need to elevate their play in practice.
“We talk about being driven individuals and a driven football team — this is where your leadership kicks in,” said Jones, who is entering his fifth season leading the Vols after back-to-back Top 25 seasons. “We have to step it up as an entire football team.”
Tennessee offensive coordinator Larry Scott said much of the same thing on Thursday.
“Not having that continuity and those type of things, it’s not a setback but it does put a little bit of a stall to the progression of where you would like to be with that aspect,” said Scott, a promising young offensive coordinator who played at South Florida and was Miami’s interim head coach in 2015.
“Anytime you don’t have guys you are counting on to be in there and get the reps and knock off the rust, and gain that continuity, you don’t want to see it as a setback, but it does kind of rear back the development of that group coming together,” he said.
“At the same time, it gives you a chance to get some young guys in there and build the depth, which is also important over the long haul of an SEC season.”
Jones singled out redshirt sophomores Drew Richmond (left tackle) and Venzell Boulware (guard) for taking every rep with the first- and second-team lines. He said junior Jack Jones (guard) and senior Coleman Thomas (center) have also been getting added reps because of the injuries.