Washington Football

Vols' Jones confident he can thrive in SEC

201212071427520602821-p2.jpeg

Vols' Jones confident he can thrive in SEC

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) When his lack of Southeastern Conference experience came up at his introductory news conference Friday, Tennessee coach Butch Jones wasted no time responding.

``I'll be the first to tell you that Nick Saban and Les Miles had zero experience when they came into the league,'' Jones said.

Jones' chances of approaching their success will depend on how well he adapts to the conference that has won the last six national championships.

During his last two stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, Jones went 50-27 and won at least a share of four conference titles in six seasons. The SEC offers a much tougher test than the Mid-American Conference or Big East.

Jones relishes the opportunity.

``If you want to be best, you want to compete in the best,'' Jones said. ``Obviously the SEC is the best football conference in the country. I have many good friends that compete at this level - on the center stage - and I look forward to it.''

Lately, Tennessee hasn't been competitive at this level.

The Volunteers have gone 1-7 in SEC play each of the last two seasons. Jones is replacing Derek Dooley, who was fired after losing 14 of his last 15 conference games.

That makes this a new type of challenge for Jones, who inherited winning teams from Brian Kelly at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Now he must rebuild a Tennessee program that has produced three straight losing seasons.

Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said at the start of the search he wanted someone familiar with the challenges of the SEC. Although Jones hasn't worked in the SEC before, Hart believes the coach understands the league well enough to succeed.

``I do think it's important - particularly in this league and we talked about this at great length - to understand this league and to understand the competitive nature of this league,'' Hart said. ``Butch talked about how good the Southeastern Conference is at the line of scrimmage. He talked a lot about that. He has an excellent grasp and an excellent plan on what he wants to do in that regard.''

That plan could include adding assistants who have competed in this league and have recruited in SEC territory before.

Jones' contract includes a minimum of $3 million per year to pay his assistants. Jones vowed to put together ``the best football staff in the country,'' though he also noted SEC experience wasn't essential for a coach to recruit effectively in this part of the country.

``Recruiting is a people business, so I want the best teachers and best recruiters no matter where we have to go get them,'' Jones said. ``I do think it's important that we have some coaches that know the lay of the land, but I really think if you're a great recruiter, you can recruit anywhere because it's all relationship based.''

Jones wants some staff members with Tennessee roots. He placed a priority on recruiting within his home state, a recent problem for the Vols.

``The first thing you want to do in any situation in recruiting is own your home territory, and Dooley did let that get away from him,'' said Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. ``It's a combination of a few things. Winning is the first. When Tennessee wins, those kids flock to Knoxville. When you've got a dynamic recruiter (Vanderbilt's James Franklin) across the state and Vanderbilt's the better program in state, you're going to end up having those kids either decide to look harder at Vanderbilt or just take off.''

The Vols don't have verbal commitments from any of Tennessee's top five 2013 recruits according to Rivals, and four of them have committed elsewhere. Rivals listed 10 four-star prospects from Tennessee in 2012. Only one signed with the Vols.

``We are going to win first and foremost with the great state of Tennessee,'' Jones said. ``We have tremendous high school coaches in this state. We are the state institution and we will own our state. We are going to be at every high school in the state, and our players are going to understand what it is to wear the `power T.'

``They're going to understand what it is to represent their home institution. I take great pride in that.''

Jones also takes pride in his track record. He believes his previous results show he can make Tennessee a contender, even if that resume doesn't include any stops at SEC schools.

The improvement might not happen immediately. Cincinnati went 4-8 in Jones' first season, but the Bearcats have gone 19-6 since. Jones used the term ``process'' - one of Saban's favorite buzzwords - to describe the project he's taking on at Tennessee.

``It's a process,'' Jones said. ``You have to look at the body of work. It hasn't been just performed at one institution. It's now been formed at two institutions along the way, and I look forward to the third here at Tennessee.''

Quick Links

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

When looking at the endless amounts of fan concepts and designs out there for the Washington Football Team's next name and logo, it's important to remember that not every idea belongs to the name suggestion of the designer. 

Once Washington makes its final decision, you can bet they'll be looking at a number of different options, and if they want to take a look at the fans' work, they could take a Red Wolves logo and match it up with a Red Tails uniform concept and tweak both to match whatever name they choose. 

In that case, whatever name and logo they choose should have these uniforms, plain and simple. 

 

Mike Joseph created these uniforms as part of his Washington Redspears project and did an exceptional job mocking up a number of different modern uniform designs.

RELATED: DEL RIO EXPLAINS WHY HE'S SO ACTIVE ON TWITTER

Redspears isn't a likely name change due to reports saying the franchise plans to stay away from Native American imagery, but that doesn't mean we should ignore these designs.

 

These use the burgundy and gold really well and have a unique number font that has worked for NFL teams like the Ravens, Broncos, Bears, Titans and Steelers in the past. 

The great part about this design is it could be easily rebranded to a different. All the franchise would have to do is lose the spear logo and use whatever logo they settle upon. They could even keep the numbers on the helmet as they have currently. Everything else is versatile. 

Between the sleek design, use of colors and the unique number fonts, this has to be one of, if not the best fan-generated uniform mock-up out there. If the Washington Football team uses these but with a different team name and logo, it'd be hard to complain about that decision. 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS:

Quick Links

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

There were already some decent expectations placed on Antonio Gandy-Golden for 2020 — and then Kelvin Harmon went down. Now, the Day 3 selection is being labeled as someone who needs to really contribute to the Washington Football Team.

But is that too much to ask for a rookie who went on Saturday in the draft? Recent numbers indicate that answer may be yes.

From 2015 to 2019, 25 wide receivers were chosen in the fourth round, which is where Washington nabbed Gandy-Golden a few months ago. Here are some takeaways from looking back on how all of those guys performed in their first professional seasons:

  • Only one target topped 50 catches and 600 yards, and coincidentally enough, it was Jamison Crowder. Crowder caught 59 passes for 604 yards and two scores as a rookie for the Burgundy and Gold in 2015. The only other guy who came close to either of those marks was Antonio Callaway, who had 43 grabs for 586 yards and five touchdowns for Cleveland in 2018. Those are easily the two best performances by a fourth-round rookie wideout since 2015, so keep that in mind when discussing Gandy-Golden.
  • Out of that group of 25, 15 suited up for double-digit games for their teams during their first taste of the league. The average stat line for those 15 rookies was 17 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown in about 14 contests. That's meager. 
  • Just nine out of the 25 recorded a touchdown catch as a rookie, and only four (Crowder, Callaway, DaeSean Hamilton and Malcom Mitchell) visited the end zone multiple times.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

So, judging solely off of that data, it would appear that Washington shouldn't be prepared to lean heavily Gandy-Golden. And once you combine that history with other factors, such as the huge transition he's about to make from Libery to the NFL and the very limited offseason he's had thus far, then the outlook for Gandy-Golden becomes even dimmer.

There is a super simple counter argument, however, at least when it comes to comparing him to his past fourth-round peers, and it has to do with his potential playing time.

While the 22-year-old has to fight through a pandemic, something none of the above rookies can relate to and something that could be detrimental to his early career, he also may be in line for a massive share of snaps right away. Most players who go off the board where Gandy-Golden did are usually worried about simply making the team; he, on the other hand, very well could be a starter across from Terry McLaurin in Week 1.

That alone means Gandy-Golden could end up having enough involvement in the offense to come up with a Crowder-like, impactful debut. In 2019, McLaurin far surpassed other third-round rookie receivers due largely to the amount of opportunity he got with Washington (his ridiculous talent was a bonus of course, too). Gandy-Golden is tracking on a similar path. 

A fairly general rule for any franchise is that it's not exactly prudent to need a Day 3 pass catcher to immediately act as one of your primary weapons. Stats from 2015 to 2019 seem to back up that general rule.

Every rule has an exception here or there, though. Maybe Gandy-Golden, with his outstanding physical traits and possibly featured role in 2020, will be that next exception and make all this math and comparing a totally moot issue. 

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS: