Tennessee’s players-only meeting held earlier this week wasn’t necessarily unusual. However, it was a sign that the Vols had issues that needed to be hashed out.
“We have them pretty often,” defensive lineman Omari Thomas said during the Tennessee’s press conference on Tuesday. “Whenever we have something coming up or you see guys who are kind of falling off or lacking a little bit, we just go ahead and address it. We want to make sure everyone is on the same page, having fun and enjoying the process. We can’t cheat the process.”
Thomas didn’t specify how the Vols might have been cheating the “process” or which Vols were most at fault. As initially reported by Off The Hook Sports, quarterback Joe Milton took the blame for Tennessee’s sub-par offensive showing in a 30-13 win against Austin Peay on Saturday in which Milton completed just one of his first eight passes. However, Milton certainly wasn’t completely to blame, as several of the incomplete passes hit Tennessee’s receivers in the hands and could have been caught. Per a source with knowledge of the team meeting, the other issue at hand was Tennessee’s intensity – or lack thereof – in practice last week before the Vols hosted the Governors. The Vols play Florida on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.
“We talked about how we needed to approach the week and we can’t change our preparations,” Thomas said. “It’s a big game in the SEC. It’s a rivalry game but we don’t need to change what we do. That was really the main thing. It was a great meeting for us.”
The meeting, which occurred on Sunday, was a players’ only meeting with no coaches present. Milton finished the Austin Peay game with an impressive stat line, He completed 21-of-33 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Milton also did not throw an interception and hasn’t turned the ball over this season in two games. The Vols opened the season with a 49-13 win against Virginia.
The Vols play Florida at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Tennessee hasn’t won at Florida since 2003. The Vols opened as a -8.5 favorite. However, that number has dropped to -7 at most sports books.