The coaching staff is using some of the extra time this week to speak directly to recruits, the firing of Butch Jones is not a forgone conclusion, and two more reasons that John Kelly is awesome. This and more in today’s Vols link roundup.
Whispering into the other ear
In this week’s Gameday on Rocky Top Podcast, Brad and I debated the question of just how concerned we should be about two Class of 2018 commits re-opening their recruitment earlier this week. We both agree that there is cause for at least some degree of concern, but although he’s not all the way to “freak out” yet, he is much closer to that territory than I am. Brad is definitely in the majority, but I learned this morning that I am not completely alone, as Blake Morgan at SEC Country has now posted that he thinks fans may be overreacting as well.
None of us actually know at this point, of course, but the most important thing to take away from all of this is that the coaches are using the bye week to get their own message to recruits:
“The biggest thing is it gives us a chance to talk about our program,” running backs coach Robert Gillespie said. “Rather than the media talk about the program and what they think is going on inside of it. It gives us a chance to go out and put truth to the expectations and how our team is doing. Rather than reading it in the media and Twitter and all those things. It gives us a chance to let those guys see what is going on. So, we are excited about it.”
Only mostly dead
Of course, everyone is still talking loudly and often about Butch Jones, and although favoring one source over another may give a different impression, there does not yet appear to be a consensus about the future of Jones at Tennessee, which is probably as it should be. Gridiron Now’s Mark Nagi devoted some space to making the case for Jones, giving five reasons why firing him might not be the best thing in the world. SEC Country’s Mike Griffith did the same (while also balancing it out with five reasons why he should be fired anyway), and also points out in another article that if the team is still willing to do its part, then Jones may not yet be past the point of no return.
Mostly, the concerns about termination at this point come down to money, stability, and recruiting. For counter-arguments, open your Twitter app and wait a few seconds.
John Adams, by the way, told Paul Finebaum the other day that Vols fans are more enraged with Butch Jones than they ever were with Derek Dooley, which even in this day and age of the Extra Most Bestest is a bit much.
John [Fulmerized] Kelly
There are not one, but two more reasons today alone that John Kelly is the best thing on Rocky Top right now. First, he’s putting his personality on full blast and directing it on his teammates to rally the troops during the bye week:
Junior running back John Kelly said he’s put it on himself to help ensure that the team’s spirits remain high and the bond between the players continues to stay strong and grow.“All you got to do is make sure you are focused on keeping the team together,” Kelly said on Tuesday. “That’s really the main thing that I focus on every day I come in here. It’s just how can I help us be a closer team, we are already a pretty close team, but it’s always improvements that I can make, that we can all make.”
And then, his response to his fumble in the Georgia game (which apparently may not have actually even been a fumble, but whatever), is classic Kelly. When asked if he would be more assertive in getting his coaches to challenge the call the next time, he did what John Kelly does, which is to smile first and then surprise:
“Man, next time I’m gonna score,” he said.
- The South Carolina game will be a noon kick. Boo.
- Defensive end Darrell Taylor, who got ejected for a frustration fight last week against Georgia, is almost certainly going to miss the first half of that game. That may actually force defensive line coach Brady Hoke, who is wanting more pressure from his front four and also to make better use of depth along the line by using eight to nine guys in the rotation, to actually do it right out of the gate. I hope he’s not waiting for my permission or something.
- Defensive backs coach Charlton Warren says that Shaq Wiggins is continuing to do well as his role continues to grow. Warren also gave an explanation for why they asked Trevor Daniel, the nation’s second-best punter, to rugby punt. Basically, they weren’t happy that Mecole Hardman was having such success returning Daniel’s long punts, so they wanted to change up where he caught it. Sigh. Okay. But me, I think I would have focused on changing on what the punt return coverage unit was doing wrong or even asking Daniel for more hang time or different placement rather than asking him to completely change the way he punts so dramatically.
- Evan Berry is reportedly getting better but is still not expected to be ready for South Carolina.
- Remember Jonathan Hefney? He suffered an injury not unlike the one that Inky Johnson suffered, although not quite as severe, in the CFL. He’s now used up his medical benefits but still needs some treatment. Read this article for the background and then donate a little something to his GoFundMe if you are able and inclined:
There is a GoFundMe set up now…here’s the link https://t.co/s2okhUJJMV Please pass it along. Thank you in advance for your love! ❤️💪🏾
— Jonathan Hefney (@ElHefney5) October 2, 2017