KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football coach Butch Jones used his time in ESPN’s SEC “Car Wash” on Monday to reiterate some familiar talking points.
Jones talked about the quarterback competition, defending the triple option, and the offseason. He also said that the SEC is the best conference in college football and gave a shout-out to a coaching mentor.
1. The quarterback controversy
The biggest storyline surrounding the Volunteers program has been the battle to succeed Josh Dobbs at quarterback.
Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano have battled for the No. 1 spot throughout the offseason. Both bring different skills to the table.
“Quinten Dormady out of Boerne, Texas, is a young man that has been in our program, understands the system,” Jones said. “And we have the redshirt freshman in Jarrett Guarantano out of New Jersey — very talented, as well. Those two are competing. We’ve talked to our young team about ‘compete don’t compare.’
“I think it’s been exceptionally healthy for our football program.”
2. Defending the triple option
Tennessee opens the season Sept. 4 against Georgia Tech in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech runs the triple option, which presents an interesting wrinkle for Tennessee’s defense.
“It’s a great challenge,” Jones said. “It’s going to challenge our overall discipline. Again, in all three phases, playing as one. I like to refer to it as playing complementary football. That’s going to be key in this football game.
“Everyone knows when you play the triple option, everyone has to focus on doing their job and understanding their responsibilities.”
Tennessee opens the season with three games in a span of 13 days. Tennessee will face Indiana State and Florida weeks 2 and 3.
3. Best offseason under Jones
Jones has raved about the job done this summer by strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson.
The praise continued Monday.
“We’ll be a young football team, but our program has a lot of momentum. This is the best offseason that we’ve had,” Jones said. “Rock Gullickson, our strength and conditioning coach, coached 17 years in the National Football League and has really made a monumental difference in our football program.”
4. SEC still the best
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher made news last week by saying the ACC has become the premier conference in college football.
Jones believes the SEC remains the best conference despite ACC member Clemson winning the national championship last season.
“I look at competitive depth from top to bottom,” Jones said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a conference other than the Southeastern Conference that is as complete from top to bottom.
“Unless you compete in it on a weekly basis, you really don’t understand the physical toll it takes on your football team.”
5. Jones gives shoutout to former NFL coordinator Doug Graber
Jones praised former NFL defensive coordinator Doug Graber when asked about how his internship with Tampa Bay helped him grow.
“I think being around professional athletes and going through training camps and all that and being around great coaches,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for Doug Graber, who was the defensive coordinator at the time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All of those experiences kind of add up.”
Jones’ first professional coaching experience came when he interned with Tampa Bay from 1987-89.