Jones talks QB separation, freshmen running backs, Georgia Tech, and more

Butch Jones talked to reporters after practice last night and started with saying that the challenge right now is balancing practice and summer school. The message to his team was to make sure they are not just spending their time at practice, but investing it, and he said that having fall camp while summer school was going on was going to help develop mental toughness.

Jones also addressed several other issues:

  • He dodged a question about whether either Quinten Dormady or Jarrett Guarantano had separated themselves from the other in the ongoing quarterback battle saying instead that both are improving every day and gaining confidence.
  • When asked specifically about Dormady, Jones said he is consistent and getting more comfortable and vocal. He then said the same about Guarantano. Specifically, he’s watching several things, including their body language after a play to see whether it changes depending on how the play went.
  • Jones said that all three freshmen running backs are looking good and are going to play. They’re being taught the difference between being a rusher and being a running back, that they need to be able to run, take care of the football, pass protect, and carry through well on run fakes. He says they’ve handled it extremely well and that much of the reason for that is that John Kelly is doing a good job of mentoring them and helping them get ready. And don’t forget that Carlin Fils-aime is also still in the mix. So it looks like it’s not just Kelly and Fils-aime but that they’re getting the freshmen ready to contribute as well.
  • The team is starting to sprinkle Georgia Tech preparation into their practices. At this point, they are not especially concerned about who the Yellow Jackets quarterback is going to be. They’re more concerned just about their offense, which Jones characterized as a very, very explosive one that causes mismatches and match up problems. They are going to run their offense regardless of who’s manning the QB position. Jones hasn’t tabbed anyone in particular to be the scout team quarterback, saying the main challenge is being able to simulate the speed of the game with that type of offense.
  • After a brief hesitation, Jones acknowledged that the senior cornerbacks do have a leg up on the others just due to experience. He again mentioned how much he’s liking Justin Martin, that he’s growing up and maturing. Emmanuel Moseley getting cleared for all drill work is also a good thing. But the young guys are pushing the older guys.
  • When asked what they’re doing, if anything, about opposing teams kicking away from kick returner Evan Berry, Jones said simply that they need to be solid in their schemes and that the goal of the kick return unit is to get good starting field position for the offense. When teams “sky-kicked” against the Vols, their starting position was between the 34- and 37-yard lines, which they’ll gladly take.
  • At weakside linebacker, Quart’e Sapp is apparently still “very limited,” but Cortez McDowell has had a good camp. Jones likes that they have some versatility at the linebacker spot and specifically mentioned Elliott Berry and Dillon Bates. They’re happy to have Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Colton Jumper back, and they’re all being pushed by the young guys.


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