Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  By SCOUT.COM  |  Last updated 10/22/13
By Riley Blevins InsideTennessee.com KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Nearly 48 hours since upsetting ninth-ranked South Carolina, Butch Jones was perched behind a microphone as if nothing had happened. Alabama doesnt care what we did last week, Jones said. Everything that occurred last week isnt going to help us this week. Thats in the past. Its Alabama week. Time to snap and clear. Or is it? While the Vols certainly cant dwell on a jolting win over the Gamecocks, they also cant forget it. Even Jones admits it. The win injected confidence and momentum into the Vols, something thats been absent for a long, long time. "Over the course of the season, whether you have success or failure, you gain experience, quarterback Justin Worley said. With the way we've played these last few weeks, I think our confidence has grown. I definitely think we're a different football team than we were earlier this year. Players hear Jones talk ad nauseum about rebuilding the program, reshaping the culture and marching the Vols back to relevancy brick by brick. Theyve bought into his mantras and quirky ways, but until two weeks ago it was nothing but blind faith. Now, theres evidence. Its taken us up until now to realize were doing everything right, Worley said. We threw some blind faith in him and the coaching staff now its starting to click. JaWuan James saw it click in the locker room after an overtime loss to Georgia. I saw a different team in that Georgia locker room at the end of the game. In everybody's minds we believe that we can win these types of games, James said. I feel like we went out there and showed it against South Carolina. Just to have that confidence from him and the other coaches, it helps a lot because if they believe in us to the fullest, then we can believe in ourselves and we can go out there and execute." Before the raucous win over South Carolina, the goal was to find success. Now it becomes maintaining it. Were proud of what were building, now its what you do with momentum, Jones said. The more you win, the more that is at stake. In order for the Tennessee-Alabama game to be meaningful for four quarters, the Vols will need to continue to improve this week. Alabama leads the nation in holding opponents to just 9.7 points per game. And theres no lull on the other side of the ball. The Tide average 40.7 points per game, which is good enough for 17th in the nation. Everything will be tested, Jones said. I dont see weaknesses when I look at Alabama. Jones said tackling and improved special teams play will be emphasized this week. Tennessee logged 15 missed tackles last Saturday, the majority of which were the result of lazy arm tackles thrown at South Carolinas Mike Davis. Alabamas two-headed rushing attack poses an equal if not greater threat than the SECs leading rusher. T.J. Yeldon averages 93.9 yards per game and running mate Kenyan Drake is good for 67 per contest. We have to take giant steps moving forward, Jones said. injury notes, updates The majority of news on the injury front is positive as the Vols eye top-ranked Alabama. Jones said wideout Josh Smith is expected to return, adding that Justin Worley and Rajion Neal are fine after banging a hand on a helmet and injuring a knee, respectively. Jones also shed light on the Alex Bullard situation. The starting left guard was absent from the starting lineup against South Carolina. Mack Crowder was at center and James Stone shifted down to guard for the games first two drives. There was speculation Bullard was held out of the starting lineup because he was late to a team meeting, but the senior also was in an air boot during the bye week. Jones said Bullards brief absence was partly health and discipline related. Trevarris Saulsberry, who is still recovering from a knee injury and was in pads for Saturdays contest, was not listed on the most recent two-deep. Linebacker Curt Maggitt also was taken off the two-deep for the first time all season. The Lawson effect Alabamas dominance extends well beyond Xs and Os. Everything will be tested, Jones said. Football rewards those who are in great condition mentally and physically. Jones doesnt feel the Vols are under matched from a conditioning standpoint, pointing to a gaudy stat as evidence. Teams prepared by Dave Lawson, Tennessees strength and conditioning coordinator, boast a 43-2 record when leading at halftime. Sound bite for Bama week From an outsiders standpoint, the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry may have lost its luster as it has recently turned into a one-sided affair. Dont tell that to Worley. We hate them just like they hate us, Worley said. Jones reverted to coach-speak when discussing the rivalry, saying it was just the next game on the schedule. I understand the rivalry and I understand the tradition, Jones said. But this isnt any more important than last week. D-line dominating The praising of Marlon Walls and Corey Miller has turned into a staple of Jones Monday press conference, but it was Dan McCullers and Jacques Smith drawing the lump sum of compliments from the headman this week. Jones said McCullers played the best game of his career Saturday and was pleased with Smiths explosive get off. Worthy weapon Its easy to dub Marquez North as Tennessees weapon against South Carolina. The freshman nabbed three balls for 102 yards in a coming out party that was highlighted by a one-handed snag to set up the game-winning field goal. While Jones spoke highly of his young pass catcher, the headman reserved the title weapon for kicker Michael Palardy. Outside the headline-grabbing 20-yard field goal to down the Gamecocks, Palardy had six punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
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