Well Tennessee Volunteer fans, the wait is over. Butch Jones is your answer.
The Vols upset the No.11 South Carolina Gamecocks 23-21, their first win over a Top-25 team since 2009 when they beat No. 21 South Carolina. After losing 19 straight to AP-ranked opponents, this win was a long time coming. It took several coaching changes: Phillip Fulmer to Lane Kiffin to Derek Dooley and now Butch Jones. It took countless losses. It took several disappointing seasons, but the Vols have finally stepped up.
This win means everything to the Volunteers, especially for the seniors who have put up with all the drama of change over the last 4-5 years. The ability to overcome adversity speaks volumes for the Volunteers football program.
After losing arguably their best players Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter and Tyler Bray to the NFL after last season, there weren’t any expectations for a team with a new coach and a revamped offense.
Although shaky and inconsistent, junior quarterback Justin Worley has proved that he can make some solid passes and manage the game relatively well and has consistently improved the past couple weeks. Worley was 19-of-34 for 179 and a touchdown.
He has had a lot of help from his top two targets, Pig Howard and freshman Marquez North. Howard had eight receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown, while North added three receptions for 102 yards.
The defense was able to manage an explosive Gamecocks’ offense, led by quarterback Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore protege Mike Davis. Shaw threw his first interception in the game and also sprained his knee with less than five minutes to go in the game.
Although the Vols were unable to stop Davis, who had 21 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown, they were able to control Gamecocks’ offense in the red zone.
The Vols still have need significant improvement on all aspects of the ball, but for now, a win is what they needed. It reassures not only the team, but also the fan base that the Vols are on their way back in the SEC.
Seems as if Jones’ “brick by brick” philosophy may be making more of an impact than expected. The Vols face No. 1 Alabama next week in Tuscaloosa. It will be interesting to see if the momentum from the almost win against Georgia, and now the win over No.11 South Carolina carries over.
Rest-assured, Butch Jones has made his signature statement, and he is here to stay.