This past week has felt a lot longer than seven days.
First, there was the stunning loss to Florida, where an additional decade was taken off of the life of every Tennessee fan.
Then, Butch Jones was fired in the court of public opinion, allowing names such as Chip Kelly, Les Miles, and Bob Stoops (among others) to circulate around every corner of social media.
The “Fire Butch” bandwagon is currently at such a high capacity that it’s easy to forget there’s a game on Saturday, when the Vols take on the Minute Men of UMass at high noon.
UMass isn’t a good team — in fact, they’re an actual dumpster fire. But for those writing this game off and saying “wake me up when Georgia rolls into Knoxville on Sept. 30,” this Saturday’s game holds more significance than you think.
Whether the Vols win by three touchdowns or four touchdowns is irrelevant — they’re going to win the game. What is relevant is how Butch Jones handles the game. If he handles it the way he should, then he might be on the precious of actual change. Change from all the bone-headed mistakes he makes in regards to situational and strategic football.
If Butch makes said changes, will it be enough to trust that he’s fully self aware of his flaws? No, but like he says, “brick by brick.”
So what exactly should Butch do on Saturday?
For starters, give Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano a half each. Dormady in the first half, and Guarantano in the second. Although Dormady has been the starter up to this point, his level of play hasn’t exactly been convincing. Against Georgia Tech, he threw countless errant passes and was saved by the brilliance of John Kelly and Marquez Callaway. Against Florida, he threw three interceptions, including one in the red zone, and another for a pick six.
Meanwhile, Guarantano has only seen action against Indiana State, where he and Dormady played starting quarterback musical chairs. It’s time for the redshirt freshman to gain in-game reps where he doesn’t have the possibility of being benched in the back of his mind.
Also, how about letting John Kelly rest against an inferior opponent?
It’s odd that against the Yellow Jackets and Gators, Kelly combined for 38 carries compared to 76 Dormady pass attempts. Yet, against the Indiana State Sycamores, Kelly had just as many rushes (18) as Dormady did passes.
This shouldn’t be the case Saturday.
Kelly cannot see the field for more than a series or two. After that, this game is all about Carlin Fils-Aime and Ty Chandler, who by the way, both look pretty good.
The strategy that I just laid out should’ve been implemented against Indiana State. It wasn’t, and that alone should’ve been a warning sign that Butch was on the cusp of committing football sin against Florida.
If his approach to football becomes logical against UMass, maybe there’s reason for optimism against Georgia next weekend.