The Tennessee Volunteers picked up their third win of the season Saturday, and put themselves in the position first year head coach Butch Jones said they needed to be in by this point in the season.
The two weeks prior to their contest against South Alabama Saturday were grueling to say the least, and while the Vols may have come away with two double digit losses they have still weathered the first half of the storm.
What now lies ahead of them is the final stretch of this early to midseason storm when they face Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama in the next three-of-four weeks, with a bye week in between the Georgia and South Carolina games.
Coach Jones dubbed this Monday “Positive Monday,” in his weekly presser. He claimed it would be all about the positives in his young program up to this point in the season as he began to rattle off statistics to begin his press conference. However, he is still aware of the problems his team will face for the remainder of the season as well.
“Right now we have some major depth issues and I think it is starting to be revealed,” Jones said. “I think it is starting to show itself.”
He noted that linebackers A.J. Johnson, and Dontavis Sapp both took over 80 snaps Saturday against South Alabama, merely due to the Vols lack of depth, and Jones knows that will take a toll on his team as the season wears on.
“Every single rep you take accumulates over time throughout the course of the grind of along season,” Jones said. “That is where we are at and we have to continue to recruit and develop depth upon our football team.”
The challenge will only become greater this Saturday as Tennessee welcomes a No. 6 ranked Georgia Bulldog team whose offense is hitting on all cylinders at this point in the season. Their attack begins with senior quarterback Aaron Murray.
“Their quarterback is as good as any quarterback in the country,” Jones said. “He is a Sunday quarterback, he can make all the throws. Very skilled on the perimeter.”
The Bulldogs also carry a lethal rushing attack with them every week, but they may be limited this Saturday after an injury sustained by Todd Gurley last week against LSU. Mark Richt says Gurley is day-to-day, and has yet to release any further details on the stud Georgia running back.
Nonetheless though, Keith Marshall is just as good as Gurley in the backfield, the only challenge for him will be taking the bulk of the snaps rather than splitting the time as he has through the season thus far.
The Volunteers will also don the know Smokey Gray uniforms for Saturday’s nationally televised game. It comes as no surprise as Jones claims wearing them this weekend presents a great opportunity for recruiting, and exposure to the program.
The Vols (3-2) and Bulldogs (3-1) will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, October 5 in Neyland Stadium. The game will be broadcast on CBS.