There is no ten game losing streak to Florida.
At least in the minds of Tennessee players, who say they don’t think about it at all as they begin preperation for a Florida program that has bested the Vols for a decade straight.
“It’s a new year. This is Team 119,” cornerback Cameron Sutton said. “They’re a new team as well. It’s pretty much our first true road test of the year, so we’ve just got to prepare well, have that road focus — that road mindset.”
Sutton went as far as to say he doesn’t even know how many times the Gators have beaten Tennessee in a row and that the coaches don’t bring it up behind closed doors.
Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin echoed those sentiments, scoffing at the notion that Florida has a mental edge in a rivalry it has dominated for a decade.
“There’s no mental edge to it,” Reeves-Maybin said. “Every season is a new season. Every week is a new week. We’ve just got to work through our preparation in practice. The team that has the best week of preparation and shows up the best on Saturday, that’s who’s going to win the game.”
It’s an interesting approach to an intense week undoubtedly filled with emotions as the Vols look to top their SEC rival for the first time since 2004. Tennessee is approaching this game publicly as the next one on the schedule.
The streak, according to Jones, is for the media and fans to discuss.
“First of all, only 12 individuals on our roster went to Florida (in 2013). That is for you guys to talk about all week long,” Jones said. “What matters is our preparation and becoming a better football team. The challenge that lies ahead of us is playing a really talented football team that is 3-0. All we can control is our work ethic, our mindset, our improvement, our preparation and then go execute on Saturday.”
The third-year head coach will continue his team's routine heading into this week just as he has the past three games. There will be no special preparation for Florida as the Vols hit the road for their first SEC game.
“Everything in sport is all about a routine and keeping the routine the same. That’s why, even why when we go on the road for road games, it’s imperative that you try to keep as much routine oriented as possible, whether it’s a road game or an away game, especially with 29 individuals making their first SEC road trip.”
Defensive line boost
Defensive lineman Danny O’Brien has been reinstated to the team and will resume practice Monday. Jones announced the redshirt junior’s suspension Sept. 9 for a violation of team rules, and his missed both the Oklahoma and Western Carolina games while being removed from the team.
The Flint, Michigan, native had two tackles and a sack in Tennessee’s season opening win against Bowling Green and started 12 games last season at nose tackle, notching 23 total tackles, 4.5 for a loss, and a sack.
“He has to earn the travel roster spot by his performance in practice and by doing everything right,” Jones said. “We’ve already spoken to him. We’ve laid out the guidelines, and it starts, obviously, today in practice.”
Williams honored by SEC
Wide receiver Preston Williams was named SEC Freshman of the Week Monday after snagging three catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns against Western Carolina Saturday.
The former Scout five-star prospect received his first extensive action in the lineup after missing all of training camp when he was forced to retake the ACT after the NCAA Clearinghouse flagged his original score.
“You see the skill set, but it is just the overall volume of the offense, the techniques and the football endurance that it takes to compete at a high level,” Jones said. “Preston is a very competitive young man. He wants to do well. I could see him gaining more and more confidence as his practice opportunities increased. He made some good adjustments, and he will continue to improve. It's a step-by-step process."
Jones also updated the injury situation with three players who missed last week's game against Western Carolina. Defensive back Max Arnold could be available Saturday, while receiver Jason Croom and running back Ralph David Abernathy have still been ruled out for the time being.
"We expect Max Arnold to be back at practice. We'll know a little bit more on his status as the week progresses," Jones said. "Ralph David Abernathy IV is still a couple weeks away right now. Jason Croom continues to progress, but he's not ready. It's still probably going to be a couple weeks with his status. I'll know a little bit more on Ralph David and Jason probably mid-week. They won't be available for Florida. There's a possibility that Max Arnold could be available for Florida."