KNOXVILLE - Tennessee Volunteers football coach Butch Jones said it will take all of his team’s “focus and concentration” playing Missouri on Saturday with only two games left in the season and a chance at appearing in an SEC title game looming.
The Tennessee Volunteers have to win their final two games of the season and need Florida to lose against LSU on Saturday in order for the Vols to reach the SEC title game in Atlanta.
“We’re concerned with only one stat, and that’s to win,” Jones said at his biweekly news conference on Monday afternoon.
UT hosts Missouri to conclude a three-game homestead at Neyland Stadium at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday. The Vols - Tigers game airs on CBS.
LSU hosts Florida at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., at 1 p.m. ET Saturday. The Tigers - Gators game airs on the SEC Network.
Jones said Monday the result of the LSU - Florida game is out of Tennessee's control.
“In terms of scoreboard watching, we don’t ever look up at the scoreboard," Jones said. “We have to worry about the things that we can control. Control the controllables.”
LSU and Florida were originally set to play on Oct. 8 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., but the threat of Hurricane Matthew postponed the game to Saturday.
On Saturday, LSU was originally set to play South Alabama, and Florida would have played Presbyterian. According to USA TODAY, LSU will pay South Alabama a $1.5 million buyout fee, and Florida will have to pay Presbyterian a $500,000 buyout fee.
Florida plays in-state rival and ACC opponent Florida State on Nov. 26, which won’t impact the SEC standings regardless of the outcome. The Gators can win the SEC East for a second consecutive season with a win over LSU.
If Florida loses, Tennessee would also need to beat in-state SEC opponent Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Nov. 26 in order to win the East division and go to the SEC championship game.
The Vols haven’t played in the SEC championship game since winning the East division in 2007.
Saturday’s game is Tennessee’s Senior Day, which will be the last game at Neyland Stadium for seniors Joshua Dobbs, Cameron Sutton, Dylan Wiesman and Corey Vereen among others.
“I think he defines what a student-athlete is all about,” Jones said of Dobbs. “He’s a face in this community. He’s giving of his time. You look at the curriculum that he’s involved in, he’s a very good student.
“What he’s meant to our football program as the starting quarterback at the University of Tennessee, we always talk to our quarterbacks all the time is being the quarterback at the University of Tennessee is a global position. There’s a lot of expectations and standards that come along with being the quarterback at Tennessee.”
Jones said Dobbs has been “consistent day in and day out,” and that he remembered visiting Dobbs and his family while recruiting the quarterback at his home in Alpharetta, Ga.
“I’m proud of all our seniors,” Jones said. “We’ll honor 11 scholarship players.”
All 11 players either have already graduated or will graduate in December or May, according to Jones.
“Graduating with a degree, that’s what it’s all about,” Jones said.
Sutton and redshirt junior running back Alvin Kamara returned from injuries in Saturday’s 49-36 win against Kentucky.
“The leadership of having two of your captains now dressed and on the field, I thought was very different,” Jones said.
Kamara hadn’t played since Oct. 15 when he sustained a knee injury against Alabama. Sutton last played against Ohio on Sept. 17 when he fractured his right ankle.
Vols junior safety Todd Kelly Jr. is day-to-day with an ankle injury, according to Jones. Kelly left the Kentucky game due to the injury.
Tennessee has a 1-3 record against Missouri.
The Vols beat the Tigers 19-8 last season at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo.
UT has yet to beat Missouri at Neyland Stadium.
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