On Tuesday afternoon, Drink and a few key players from Saturday’s game spoke to the media.
Drink began his availability by addressing his feelings that there was much to improve from the Alabama game. Drink has hammered home the idea of building a championship culture and with that as the goal, he said, “Before we can win a championship, we must first not beat ourselves.” He continued with this idea by emphasizing the idea of complementary football, saying, “We have got to play complementary football. That’s our emphasis this week, feeding off of each other’s energy.”
Drink then shifted the focus from last week to Saturday. Drink had plenty of nice things to say regarding the Vols, and gave an update on the personnel the Tigers will have going into week 2. After his injury on Saturday, Jarvis Ware has been declared day-to-day, and it was announced that Aubrey Miller has opted out of the 2020 season. There was also some good news regarding COVID testing for the Tigers as no new positive tests came from Sunday’s round of testing.
The floor was then opened for questions, and the QB situation was hot topic of discussion. The fact that multiple guys played and played well left a little bit of uncertainty regarding who “The Guy” is for the Tigers this season. Drink was very clear in his response; the door for both QBs will be left open. “I’m comfortable playing multiple guys meaningful snaps throughout the season,” he said. “I don’t think this will be a typical season like we have ever had before.” Citing COVID as an important reason for this mindset, Drink also added, “Both guys played well (on Saturday night), both guys competed, both guys gave us exactly what we expected them to give us, and both guys will get reps moving forward.”
Many were surprisingly pleased with Tigers’ performance on Saturday, however, Drink had a different outlook on it, “There’s gotta be a lot improvement. We didn’t know enough to win the game, there’s no moral victories, there’s no ‘we fought hard’... that’s the expectation. To always compete is the expectation.” This mindset has clearly become a part of the team as a whole, too. Guys like Martez Manuel and Larry Rountree III, who both had great games on Saturday, were very open on points of improvement for themselves and the team. There’s a clear hunger to be better and it starts at the top.
Rountree and Manuel were the two most vocal guys that spoke to the media today. Manuel was first and what he saw as the biggest need for improvement was playing well from the onset of the game. It was clear the Tigers were overmatched in the first half as they got down 28-3. However, in the second half, the Tigers outscored the Tide 16-10, and Martez hopes the team as a whole can bring that same intensity for a full 60 minutes.
Rountree echoed similar ideas around execution, but was more focused on red zone efficiency. The Tigers came up short multiple times in the red zone and Larry pointed this out as a key problem to fix in order for improvement for the team as a whole.
The Tigers have the rest of the week to iron out these problems, and let’s hope we see improvements as the Tigers take the field in Knoxville in Saturday.