Don’t tell running back Eric Gray that this season is over, he’s not having it. In the midst of a three-game losing streak. Gray knows the fight isn’t over.
“It’s a 10-game fight, not a 5-game fight.”
It should come as no surprise that Trey Smith, Henry To’oto’o, and Eric Gray were preaching the right things on Monday. This wasn’t cliche after cliche; this group knows they can be better.
This sounded like a group of players that are tired of losing, frustrated with their own play at times.
Trey Smith had this to say about how this team needs to approach these next five games.
“It’s more of a commitment thing, just seeing where a lot of guys are mentally, especially after a loss or so after that. Challenging them that we have to come back and respond. At the end of the day, this game is not based on sympathy; no ones gonna feel bad for you; no one’s gonna feel sorry for you. You have to come to work every day and be prepared every day. At the end of the day, when that clock hits and it’s time to get on that field, it’s business time. That’s one thing we have to take it seriously; it’s a business right now. We have to do a better job of that and protecting Neyland Stadium. Doing our job every week and every Saturday, doing our job to the best ability we can.”
Henry To’oto’o has a good idea of what this team needs to succeed over the next five games. It starts with him being a leader for the defense.
“It honestly comes with integrity; it comes with consistency and being able to do the right things all the time. I don’t have the right to yell at somebody and tell somebody they’re doing it wrong if I am not doing it right. If I am not doing it right, then I have no right to yell at somebody. So I take that upon myself to try and do it right all the time. Try and put the extra work in and extra time to lead these guys in the right way. I can try to navigate where our defense is supposed to be and is supposed to play. There are little things I need to fix, but I try to motivate our guys. We know how we can be and our top tier, so I try my best to get our guys going.”
This Tennessee team has the talent at most positions; that’s obvious. But, for some odd reason, they haven’t been able to put together four straight quarters of that potential. These guys have been hit in the mouth over the past 4 weeks; you would think it’s time to start punching back.
But, punching back starts with coaching. This group isn’t going to get the results on the field if they don’t get the correct coaching. It’s great to go back to a Fall camp setting, allowing this group of players to correct themselves. But, I hope the coaching staff is taking as much time to correct themselves as they are the players.
With five games left in the season and a very big game looming, the Vols are out of chances. It’s time to put up or shut up.
Talking won’t win you many games; it’s time to see the fruits of their labor. Tennessee fans and players are hoping the bye week paid off as a showdown in Fayetteville looms.