Tennessee's Jones out to keep up with rest of SEC
Updated On: Jul 15 2014 05:16:23 PM CDT
There are no conference trophy silhouettes on the cover of the Tennessee football media guide.
Sure, goals in Knoxville under head coach Butch Jones are ambitious in a relative sense. Rebuilding? Well, sort of.
"We're going to put a lot of pressure on 17-, 18- and 19-year-old individuals," Jones said Tuesday at SEC Media Days in at the Hyatt Regency in Hoover, Ala.
Tennessee, 5-7 last season, is not a favorite in the conference because of the reliance on abundant youth. That's no worry for Jones, who regularly relays his message -- brick-by-brick -- to his eager if inexperienced charges.
"They listen to every word you say. They have no preconceived notions on anything. They're hungry," Jones said.
Jones said overhauling the roster that will be about 50 percent new faces brought a high energy level to spring practice.
"Year two is great and our players now understand the standard, the expectations within our football program," Jones said. "Everyone's familiar with everything, for us as a coaching staff having been through an entire SEC season. The players had had too much change and so now to have that consistency in our football program, we've really been benefited by that."
He's hopeful that fall camp produces a few more leaders, but there is no timetable for naming a starting quarterback among Justin Worley, Josh Dobbs and Nathan Peterman.
Tennessee's last winning season in the SEC was in 2007. If there is to be a Rocky Top revival, Jones knows it doesn't happen with 6-6 records and fringe bowl appearances -- that is Jones' stated goal, reaching a bowl game this season.
The eight-game SEC scheduling format preserved the Volunteers' rivalry with Alabama, which Jones proclaims a positive despite the lopsided nature of the series in recent seasons.
"What makes college football special is the rivalries," Jones said. "Now we have to get back to making these rivalry games relevant again."
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