KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee offensive coordinator Larry Scott has an intense disposition any time he talks football, but there’s an added edge from the former South Florida offensive lineman these days.
The Vols haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in 14 quarters, dating back to a 17-13 win against UMass on Sept. 30.
“There’s no magic or secret potion you’re going to pour on them,” Scott said Monday. “This is the team we have, this is what we’ve got, and the challenge is to get them better, and that’s what we’re paid to do as coaches.”
That’s what the Vols (3-4 overall, 0-4 SEC) need to do at Kentucky (5-2, 2-2) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday or Scott and the Tennessee staff might by looking for new jobs in December.
“You play football in the SEC, there’s never a sigh of relief,” Scott said, asked if he was glad to have Alabama’s No. 1-ranked defense in his rear view mirror. “We’ve got to score a touchdown. How is there a sigh of relief? Not at all, everybody is competitive, everybody is fighting, it’s football in October and November in the SEC.
“You better have your guard up and be ready to go every week.”
Coach Butch Jones was asked earlier Monday if he has considered taking away the play-calling duties from Scott.
“No, not at all,” said Jones, who handpicked Scott after last season, having been impressed with how he worked with former coordinator Mike DeBord last season and the input he had on Tennessee’s record-breaking offense in 2016.
“I see progress, [but] unfortunately, I haven’t seen it on game day,” Jones said. “You just have to continue to work and it will come to fruition at some point.”
Scott didn’t mince words when asked where Tennessee needed to improve.
“You have to finish blocks, you have to catch the football,” Scott said. “It comes down to execution, and the challenge for us as coaches is to continue to figure out why we aren’t executing in those situations and get it fixed.”
Scott said he’s seen progress from one week to the next with redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who will be making his third career start at Kentucky.
“We want to keep him process-driven, one day at a time,” Scott said. “We want to, from a structural standpoint, give us some plays that gives us a chance to move the chains and score touchdowns.
“It’s however we have to do that with other moving pieces, and highlighting players, whatever you have to do creatively with the situation we’re in; that’s what we have to do.”
Tennessee football, ‘The Good’
• Freshman CB Shawn Shamburger has brought excitement and competition to a secondary in need of playmakers. The Vols’ secondary has only 2 interceptions this season.
• Junior RB John Kelly spoke to the O-line and RBs about the need to elevate their level of play at Kentucky.
• Linebackers Quart’e Sapp and Austin Smith are expected to play at Kentucky after being sidelined by injuries at Alabama.
• Senior offensive lineman Jashon Robertson will play this week after being knocked out of the Alabama game with a lower body injury.
Tennessee football, ‘The Bad’
• Junior offensive guard Jack Jones, who started the first three games this season, has suffered career-ending injuries to his neck and shoulder.
• Kicker Aaron Medley is expected to miss another game on account of an undisclosed illness.
• Kelly is averaging less than 4 yards per carry in the last three games and hasn’t produced a 100-yard rushing game since the 17-13 win against UMass on Sept. 23.
Tennessee football, ‘The Unknown’
• Jones said he was meeting with sophomore defensive end Darrell Taylor to discuss lifting his suspension on Monday. Taylor has missed the past two games.
• Scott said he’s talked with sophomore Tyler Byrd about the need to “demonstrate” to coaches he has the “consistency” needed to play on Saturday.
• Kick returner Evan Berry has been healthy enough to practice with the team but unable to play since the opening game of the season against Georgia Tech.
Tennessee football coordinators
(Larry Scott at 9:26 mark)
Tennessee coordinators discuss upcoming Kentucky game
Posted by Tennessee Volunteers Insiders on Monday, October 23, 2017