KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee had four red-zone opportunities Saturday against South Carolina and one of the best running backs in the country.
The Vols came away with three field goals in the four situations. The last red-zone appearance came on the last possession of the 15-9 loss.
Running back John Kelly said at a media availability Monday the play calls were correct. There were just too many errors that hurt the team.
“I think it just comes down to execution,” Kelly said. “There were a couple of plays where, if we would have just executed, we would have been in the end zone. We just need to get down to our execution. We have to execute and be perfect during practice, pregame warmups and everything, and we have to practice to perfection.”
Coach Butch Jones echoed the sentiment of crisper actions would end with better results.
“It starts with discipline,” Jones said. “It’s going through our progressions and protecting the quarterback. When you get in the red zone, the field condenses. Everything speeds up. We work very hard at that and will continue to. It all boils down to execution.”
Kelly received 3 runs inside the red zone on Saturday. This brought about some frustration from fans because of Kelly’s tough running style and ability to break tackles.
The use of Kelly has fallen under scrutiny at times this season. He had 4 touches in the second half of the loss. Kelly said he doesn’t worry about how much he is featured; he’s only focused on trying to win.
“I didn’t even notice that until the game was over,” Kelly said. “We were just playing so hard. I wasn’t even thinking of how many carries I was having. I just was out there playing.”
Kelly does have 137 touches this season. He has 552 rushing yards this season and 6 touchdowns to go along with 24 receptions for 250 yards.
If Tennessee gets some red-zone opportunities this week against No. 1 Alabama, Kelly likely will be more of a factor.