Butch Jones on Florida game: It ‘sets the tone for the SEC East’ race

After walking all over Indiana State last weekend, things get much tougher for Tennessee this weekend. After some uncertainty, it was announced the Vols would indeed be heading down to Gainesville to take on Florida on Saturday.

Head coach Butch Jones will be looking to exercise some demons from the last time he visited the Swamp and extend his program’s win streak over the Gators to two.

Jones was among the first coaches to speak during Wednesday’s SEC Coaches Teleconference.

Here’s a summary of what he had to say:

  • First and foremost, thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the hurricane. We had 14 families affected by the storm, most made it up to Knoxville. We have to improve in some many ways, not just physically but mentally.
  • On waiting to find out where the game was played? You can only control what you can control, so we prepared as if the game would be played on Saturday. It was more about the families affected by the storm. AD John Currie did a great job of keeping me in the loop. Our administration did a great job.
  • On Shaq Wiggins, what does he need to do to help this team? First of all, he’s been set back by injury. Now he’s getting his health back, getting the reps, getting healthy. He has to practice before he can play. He’s doing that now and he will help us win games this season.
  • Any surprises on your team after two weeks? The team develops its identity early but you never really know until they play. Three games in 13 days challenges you mental toughness and leadership and the types of offenses we have played has been tough. We showed a will to win in that first game but we found a way to win the game. We showed grit and resolve.
  • What does the Florida game mean to you/the fans? This game means a lot to many individuals. It’s a rivalry but it’s early in the season, I think it sets the tone for the SEC East. The history and tradition of both programs, the last four or so games have come down to the wire. This has been a hard-fought series.
  • On prepping for Florida QBs: Very talented QB group, we have a lot of respect for all of them.
  • Thoughts on John Kelly: We’ve asked a lot of him, not just from running the ball but in protection and receiving. Really like the way he is mentoring the young RBs.
  • On hot seat talk, is there impatience from SEC fans? Football is big. It means a lot to a lot of people, there is great passion here. This is the most in-depth and competitive league in the nation. I think it’s a war or attrition in this league. Which teams stay together? This league teaches you resolve and resiliency.


Source: Saturday Down South

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