Tennessee Sports Information Department

Bielema, Jones Know Teams Must Finish

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones talked about their upcoming game Saturday night in Knoxville on Wednesday's SEC Football Coaches Teleconference

It might as well be called the “We Must Finish Bowl.”

Arkansas (1-3, 0-1) and Tennessee (2-2, 0-1) meet Saturday night at 6 p.m. in Knoxville in a battle of two teams who haven’t been able put close games away this season.

In fact, the two programs – heralded as a pair of teams ready to breakthrough this season in their coaches’ third seasons at the helm - have combined to blow a trio of fourth-quarter leads. 

“It will be a tremendous opportunity, a very good environment for our guys to walk in and experience one of the best environments in college football and I am excited about the opportunity,” Razorback head coach Bret Bielema said on Wednesday’s SEC Teleconference.

"...It has been a productive environment for Tennessee and it is going to be us against the world and I think that is kind of what the doctor ordered right now."

The Volunteers let two leads of 10 points or more slip away in losses to Oklahoma (31-28) and Florida (28-27).

“I think we have had a very good week of preparation, but obviously I am very disappointed because I thought we played well enough to win in all three areas,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said.

“We just did not finish the game. We have to continue to put our head down, keep working and keep grinding and good things will happen."

Bielema came up with one really good thing that happened after last Saturday’s 28-21 overtime loss to Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas. 

“Obviously I was disappointed in Saturday,” Bielema said. “We played another good ball game against A&M in Cowboy Stadium and unfortunately came away empty in overtime.

“But the good news is that we all survived the plane ride home and got up on Sunday, had an opportunity to make some corrections. 

“We have got a team that is full of really good character, competitors, guys that hurt very much, but have now turned their attention to Tennessee. 

“We flipped the page late Sunday night as we have to do in this conference. We need to do a lot of things the same that we did last week, but also take a look at the things that we didn’t do well and see how we can adjust that during the work week.

“I thought our guys had a really good practice on Sunday and Tuesday. We will get another one in this afternoon, shine and polish on Thursday and then travel to Tennessee on Friday.”

Bielema, who noted that fresh-legged running back Kody Walker and cornerback Cornelius Floyd will both play this week, sees a big challenge in Tennessee.

“Tennessee is a good football team, obviously 2-2 and lost a heartbreaker on Saturday to Florida,” Bielema said. 

“Coach Jones and myself both entered the league at the same time and you can see the same things that he had at his other places that he is trying to instill there and at times it comes out very, very well.”

Tennessee is led by sophomore quarterback Josh Dobbs (6-3, 207), who ended up being the Vols’ leading passer (10-of-17, 83 yards), rusher (18 carries, 136 yards) and receiver (one catch, 58 yards) last week.

Dobbs is 53-of-91 for 557 yards passing with five touchdowns and one interception, has also run for 243 yards and two more scores and caught the 58-yard pass against Florida for a touchdown.

“He (Dobbs) is very versatile and I thought he did a very good job of managing the offense on Saturday with the run game and the run pulls and some things he did that way,” Jones said. “He continues to develop in all phases.

“I have been very, very proud of him and still – even though he started the last four games last year, he is still a work in progress and he needs to get better and better and better.”

The Vols also have a solid running game led by Jalen Hurd (86 carries, 402 yards) as does Arkansas in Alex Collins (86 carries, 502 yards).

Bielema said, “I am very impressed with their quarterback, actually their quarterback and running back on offense, 11 and 1 are very, very good football players and kind of make the whole thing go.

“Defensively, they have lost a couple of players…but players are stepping up.”

Jones respects what he sees out of Arkansas and starting quarterback Brandon Allen, who has completed 82 of his 117 passes (70.1 percent) this season while throwing for 1,141 yards and seven touchdowns with three interceptions.

“We are playing a very talented Arkansas football team,” Jones said. “Bret has done a really good job and you can see his mentality.

“They are very, very big up front as we all know and can run the football, but I think Brandon Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in our conference. He can throw the ball, he can run the football and their scheme challenges you. 

“Defensively, they are very tough, very physical up front and very talented in the secondary."

Butch Jones

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