KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Butch Jones said he knew his Tennessee players wouldn’t be denied Saturday afternoon against Florida.
“That first half of football wasn’t us. That was not us and every man knew it,” Jones said Saturday night after the Vols’ historic 38-28 win over the Gators.
“You come out the second half and I knew this football team was not going to be denied. I knew it at the hotel. I knew it today. There was just a sense of calmness and confidence.”
Jones set the tone throughout the week, insisting the focus stay on Tennessee’s preparation instead of Florida comments on social media, and maintaining a “one game at a time” approach.
It all paid off for the Vols (4-0), who rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit to snap an 11-game losing streak to the Gators (3-1).
“We scored 38 straight points,” Jones said. “I hope you guys understand the resolve and the resiliency of this football team, and the local media should understand that. We have something special here.”
Jones has rebuilt Tennessee “brick by brick,” from five wins his first season as the Vols’ head coach in 2013 to 7-6 in 2014 and 9-4 last season.
“We talked about four things we had to do,” Jones said. “We had to play extremely hard. We had to play very smart, and we needed explosive plays.
“But the most important thing we had to do was play together.”
Tennessee will head to Georgia (3-1) next Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. game at Sanford Stadium, looking to take command of the SEC East race.
“It’s just one game,” Jones said. “We’ve got to go on the road next week.”