Around this time last year, head coach Bob Stoops was very publicly taking his Big Uglies to the verbal woodshed, blasting the offensive line for it’s work ethic and attitude.
“Those guys are at this point, it’s just everything, whether it’s with their work ethic, their attitude, those things need to improve,” Stoops was quoted as saying March 3 of last year. “They haven’t had the winter everyone else has had. They right now are the weak link of the team.”
This year, it’s been a complete 180-degree turn as far as that unit is concerned. Thus far.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the start of spring practice, Stoops said his line has “been one of our best groups” in the winter workout sessions.
“I don’t think there’s any question that we’ll be better in the offensive line,” Stoops said according to Tulsa World, “because we played without so many of those seniors and all of the guys returning have experience now. And we will get Jarvis Jones and Ben Habern back for a good part of the spring. It hasn’t happened, but it’s likely to happen after spring break.”
Two injured lineman — center Ben Habern (broken leg) and guard/tackle Jarvis Jones (fractured heel) — won’t be available for the start of spring practice this week, but, after the team takes in spring break next week, will return to practice with the rest of the squad.
Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.
The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August. The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.
From the site’s report:
The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.
The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”
At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations. Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.
One of the most productive pass-catching duos in the country has been cut in half.
Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery confirmed Tuesday that Keevan Lucas sustained a torn patellar tendon in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss to Houston. As a result, the wide receiver will miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
“He’s such an emotional leader for us and such a great kid,” the first-year coach said. “We’ll have to make a few adjustments offensively and move some people around and try to make sure we’ve got guys in the right spot but also guys who will step up and be ready to play.”
Lucas is currently second on the team with 26 receptions and 409 receiving yards, behind Keyarris Garrett‘s 33 and 539. His five receiving touchdowns, though, are tops on the team.
Montgomery expects Lucas to be healthy enough to participate in spring practice next year.