Tennessee coach Butch Jones accepted the blame for his team’s 31-24 double-overtime loss to Oklahoma during his weekly press conference Monday. The Vols held a 17-3 lead through three quarters before the Sooners scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth.
Credit to Jones for taking responsibility. His team is — for the most part — young, and Saturday’s loss was one of the toughest in recent memory for the Vols.
It’s difficult to judge Tennessee’s performance in Week 2. Through three quarters, the Vols looked like the better team facing a quality opponent.
However, the collapse is the ultimate takeaway from Saturday’s game, and Jones’ conservative play-calling down the stretch did no favors. The Vols were held scoreless through the final two quarters of regulation, yet managed to look capable on their first possession of overtime.
Obviously, the offensive scheme changed when the team faced a true threat of losing. Again, this is on Jones and his staff.
While 17-3 seemed comfortable, it wasn’t enough to prevent a collapse. It’s admirable of Jones to accept the blame and it should improve his team moving forward.
Tennessee’s roster is still made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores. The team isn’t used to being in close games against great opponents.
Saturday’s outcome didn’t help the Vols’ confidence, but it did provide a great lesson. Jones taking the blame prevents the players from becoming discouraged. Tennessee also showed its capable of competing against tough competition, but now must prove it can win.
As the program’s figure-head, Jones will always be responsible for the team’s success or defeat. Not only did he accept blame, but also defended his program against Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker, who was vocal in his displeasure toward the SEC both leading up to and after the game.
Jones seems to be a good figure-head for a young, rising program. He’s a masterful recruiter, respects Tennessee’s tradition and will defend his players like he would his own children.
In his third year, he needs to prove that his scheme is capable of putting away great teams. He’s vowed to rebuild the Tennessee program and, while the team seems improved, it still faces obstacles.
Tennessee has the potential to win, but it must overcome some growing pains before earning its spot as a true contender in the SEC.
JONES: As the head coach, I take the losses. I take responsibility. We're disappointed but must continue to improve. pic.twitter.com/G6SUx0Ivdc
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) September 14, 2015