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Tennessee's Butch Jones on Joshua Dobbs, Derek Barnett, Missouri And More

Tennessee coach Butch Jones talked about his team, Joshua Dobbs, Derek Barnett and more in advance of Saturday's game against visiting Missouri.

Tennessee football coach Butch Jones spoke with reporters on the Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday morning. 

Here’s what the Tennessee coach said during his time with reporters in advance of Saturday’s SEC contest against visiting Missouri.

Opening statement…

“It was great to be back at Neyland Stadium last week. I thought (it was a) very, very good team win and right now with everything and the adversities we’re going through we’re not going to win the stat battle but the most important stat is getting the victory and I thought our kids showed some resiliency and some resolve and came away with a good victory. I thought Josh Dobbs really managed the offense exceptionally well. Obviously another great challenge with Missouri coming in here. They have a lot of confidence. Very, very explosive on offense, averaging over 30 points a game. And some of the things they do in terms of schematics, with all the RPOs, it really challenges your eye discipline and really reading your keys. They can run the football and also throw the football. Defensively, (they) lead the conference with 13 interceptions. They’ve had 10 sacks and 18 TFLs in the last two games. So it’s going to be a great challenge for us and moving forward.”

On sending positive thoughts down to LSU this weekend…

“I haven’t even given it two thoughts. Everything is so much about preparing each and every week and we live in a week-to-week season and that’s really the truth. I think we found out that last year. The team that prepares the most, the team that’s most prepared, is usually the team that has the best opportunity to win on Saturday. Being in this conference, anybody is capable of beating anyone, so all of our attention and focus is towards Missouri. The mindset, the mentality, hasn’t changed. We’re working to be 1-0 this week.”

On how he would handle if guys like Alvin Kamara and Derek Barnett wanted to run through the T on Saturday and an update on the OL…

“Running through the T is very, very special and obviously if they wanted to do that just like we have in the past with our captains at one time or another we would try to accommodate that. The great thing with these individuals is they don’t even think that. Everything is about playing football and playing winning football and leading their football team, so I’ve been really, really happy with them. But obviously anytime you run through the T is very, very special.”

“In terms of our offensive line, again, that hasn’t changed. We’re competing each and every week. We had some individuals get a lot more game repetitions last week. We’ll continue to do that. Dylan Wiesman should be at practice a little bit today. He’ll be a game-time decision and we’ll see. I’d say right now he’s probably questionable. But it’s going to be a great challenge blocking their front with their movement, their different fronts and the size of their defensive front as well and then one of the best defensive ends in the country that we’re going to go up against as well.”

On defensive end Derek Barnett chasing down Kentucky running back Stanley Williams downfield in last Saturday’s game…

“It speaks volumes. We always talk about the 63 effort that’s expected in our football program and playing hard to the whistle and that’s something that Derek Barnett has done has done his entire career here. He’s a great illustration to all of our younger players and all of our players in the program about the mentality it takes play-in and play-out and you cannot take any plays off. On defense it’s just give us a place to stand. I think that was a great illustration of pursuing to the football and the relentless effort that it takes on every single snap.”

On the magic of Neyland Stadium…

“Anytime you get an opportunity to play in an iconic stadium like Neyland Stadium and 102,455, it’s very special and something that you can never, ever, ever take for granted. We talk about it in our program. We talk about it with our players each and every day. Troy Lewis spoke about it to our football team last week, about what it means to play here and play in Neyland Stadium. You’re going to get everyone’s best game in that stadium just because it’s a very, very special place so you can never take that for granted.”

On what quarterback Joshua Dobbs has meant to the program and what kind of response he’ll get from the fans…

“I would expect a great response. Joshua Dobbs has meant so much to our football program and he’s meant so much (more) than all the wins as well. Character all the way. It starts with his family, his upbringing. You talk about a model student-athlete, you look at his curriculum that he’s involved in, and what he’s done for this community and for this state. He’s very willing of his time and he’s invested his time in the University of Tennessee and Knoxville and the state of Tennessee and then what he’s meant. He’s brought a level of stability to our football program, a level of confidence and again he’s really made his mark on his football program and I’m very proud of him. It’s not an end. Saturday is not an end. Senior Day is never an end. There’s still a few games left to be played. From that aspect, we always talk about it’s not an end. We’ve got another game at Vanderbilt. You always take advantage of your opportunities. Then a bowl game and we’ll see where all that goes. But, again, he’s meant so much to our football program, not just on the field but off the field as well.”

On Dobbs being from Georgia and whether it means more to him trying to get to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta… 

“I think just he’s a very competitive young man and he wants to do very well week-in and week-out and the thing with Josh is he’s very driven, he’s very detail-oriented but he’s also very focused and he has a consistency about himself. We talk about consistency and performance all the time with our players and he really exemplifies that. That may be a goal down the road but right now all our focus is on beating Missouri and playing winning football and doing whatever it takes to win the football game.”

On how offenses have tried to handle Barnett this season and how is Barnett able to make all the plays he does…

“It just starts with effort, a want to get to the football. He has very good instincts, he’s worked very at being very detail-oriented with his fundamentals but I think it’s an inner drive, it’s an inner drive to be great and he loves playing the game of football. He loves it and he needs it in his life. So I think that’s what drives him. He’s seen just about everything you can see from triple teams to chipping backs to nudging tight ends to three-step passing all the time to try to take away some of the rush ability. He’s seen it all. The thing that I think he’s really matured and grown is that there’s many ways to impact a game and there’s many ways to impact a quarterback and not just in terms of sacks but other things — in terms of tipped footballs, TFLs, gaining a double team or a triple team that lets somebody else tie themselves up in a one-on-one situation and give them an opportunity sack. So I think he’s really grown this year. I’ve been very proud of him.”

On if Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel’s offense has changed much since his time as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator…

“There is some carryover but I believe it’s evolved as well. He’s done a great job of really playing to the talents and the strengths of their football team. Obviously it starts with their tempo. As we know they’re a very fast tempo that’s going to try to wear you out, try to fatigue you and they do a great job with that but they also mix and match the tempos. Then they do a great job of distributing the ball with Drew (Lock) and being able to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers and stay balanced whether it’s run or pass and they’ve got great players on the perimeter, their offensive line is very physical, very tough, very hard-nosed. So it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

On if he’d prefer if the PA guy at the stadium doesn’t announce the Florida-LSU score during his game…

“Again, it may sound like coach-speak but I haven’t even thought about that. Again, when you put Missouri on video you’re facing a very, very talented football team that’s going to take all of our efforts and all of our energies and like I tell our team every single week we have to control the controllables — we can only control the things that we can control and that’s our preparation and that’s working to win but also obviously our game-day performance. So I haven’t even thought once or twice about that and again all I know is we have to play winning football in order to win on Saturday.”

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com.

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