Oct. 28, 2013
By Brian Rice KNOXVILLE, Tenn.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Butch Jones said Monday that each game is its own storyline.
How the Volunteers respond to the one written in Tuscaloosa will go a long way in determining how the final story on the 2013 season will read.
"I've spoken to our football team about it and there are some times that you become a little bit institutionalized.," Jones said during his weekly press briefing on Monday afternoon. "What are your reference points? Are they positive reference points or negative reference points? What are you going back to in your mind, getting over that hump."
The hump came in the form of a 45-10 score against the Crimson Tide. But the team has to pick the pen right back up this week in preparation to wrote the next chapter at Missouri, a team coming off a disappointing story of its own.
The Tigers entered Saturday ranked fifth in the country and led South Carolina 17-0 heading to the final period. Missouri proceeded to surrender 17 fourth-quarter points, capped by a Nick Jones 2-yard catch from Connor Shaw to tie the game with 0:42 to go. After each team scored a touchdown in the first overtime and USC hit a field goal in the second, Tiger kicker Andrew Baggett's 24-yard attempt to tie hit off the left upright, giving UM its first loss of the season.
"We talk about learning what it takes to play winning football and there's a lot that goes into it," said Jones. "The mentality, the mental approach, the mental makeup, a lot of that goes into that."
The mental approach of each team Saturday could prove that a game with South Carolina was a turning point in each teams' season. For Tennessee, the validation that a win over he Gamecocks provided for Jones' methods was important. But the team will have to overcome the disappointment of the result in Tuscaloosa.
"Winning a game like South Carolina was big because that was win number four, but it also helps bring some positive reference points," Jones said. "The South Alabama game, I said it the next week, that game helped us because we won in the final seconds. That's another positive reference point in terms of moving this program forward."
Team 117 has shown signs of moving the program forward, both on the field and off. Jones is excited by the improvement, but it has left him even more anxious for the team to take the next big step in its development and the next chapter written in the story.
"I'm encouraged as I've ever been," he said. "I'm extremely impatient, but we're not going to take any shortcuts."