It wasn’t long ago that Butch Jones was the most popular man in the Volunteer State. When talked about among Tennessee fans, Jones would be associated with terms like “savior” or “winner” and would constantly have support behind his “brick by brick” rebuilding process.
Well, Lyle “Butch” Jones is officially out of bricks.
Last night’s loss — a 24-20 excuse for a football game — against Arkansas was the final straw for many Tennessee faithful, including myself, an alum whose entire college tenure was wasted with having Derek Dooley as my school’s football coach. Jones has proven that he’s not as incompetent as Dooley in certain aspects, but his in-game work is definitely comparable.
Once again, Tennessee saw a 14-0 first quarter lead wasted by being outscored 24-6 for the remainder of the game. Like each of its three losses, the Vols were completely incompetent in the second half, a direct reflection of their coaching staff.
But this game was historically bad. Tennessee was held to 90 total yards of offense in the second half. The Vols were outrushed 141-1 in the game’s final two quarters.
Jalen Hurd, who rushed for 89 yards on 15 carries in the first half, was held to one yard on four carries in the second. It was a painful game to watch if you’re a fan, not just of Tennessee, but the game of football.
Josh Dobbs, who many predicted to be one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks, isn’t allowed to throw the ball downfield. Every play is either a QB option, handoff or screen pass out of a read formation.
The thing is, Jones is a masterful recruiter as proven by back-to-back top-10 — or five depending who you as — nationally ranked classes. Next year’s team won’t have the excuse of being “too inexperienced” since the Vols have been forced to play freshmen-heavy lineups in each of the past two seasons.
The 2016 team, or “Team 120” as Jones would eventually call it, is the team that should officially help Tennessee reclaim its spot as a contender in both the SEC and college football. But, with Jones and his staff at the helm, I don’t see that being possible.
You can say whatever you want, but I don’t have faith in a coach who doesn’t realize how ridiculous it is not to go for two while ahead by 12 late. I mean really, worst case scenario you’re still up by 12. Best case with a PAT is a 13-point lead. What does that do other than help you only lose by one should your opponent rally.
That’s the Butch Jones era in a nutshell, moral victories. Instead of going for the win, Tennessee plays “not to lose” or for “respectability.” The only problem is, when you consistently blow double-digit leads you remain the laughing stock of the SEC.
Each week becomes an increasingly difficult task to watch this team play football because we all know the talent is there but the team won’t win anything with this scheme or philosophy. Tennessee fans spent two years listening to Jones’ cliches about rebuilding and salivated at the idea of what his end product would look like.
Guess what, this is the end product. Tennessee is, at best, an eight-win team. The Vols won’t beat Alabama or Georgia, nor will they stop losing to Florida or any capable SEC team. No, Tennessee is just good enough to escape with wins against South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky — maybe — in 2015.
This doesn’t look like a team that many expected to challenge Georgia for the SEC East title. Tennessee is a team with untapped potential that will never be realized as long as its coaches are too inept to use it properly.