Vol Report: Jennings Ready to Lead and Carry the Fight

Player Transcripts Below

Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee has put its disappointing season-opening loss to Georgia State in the rearview mirror and turned its full attention to this Saturday’s matchup against BYU.

The Vols started the week with a solid practice on Monday and will look to carry that focus and motivation into the rest of this week’s practices at Haslam Field and Saturday’s contest against the Cougars inside Neyland Stadium.

“I didn’t sign up for a one-game fight,” redshirt senior Jauan Jennings said. “This is a 12-game fight. That’s what we’re going to do each and every week from here on out. That’s all we’ve got to do, prepare and focus on one game at a time.”

Jennings led the Vols with seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in the season-opener, but he acknowledged that he needs to do more for his team as one of the leaders.

“I feel like this team wasn’t juiced up on the sideline and as a leader I take full responsibility for that,” Jennings said. “I’ve got to be out there, and I’ve got to be in their heads, in their ears 24-7. As a leader, I admit that I did not do that. This week and here on out, that’s what I’m going to focus on doing – making sure that this team knows that we’ve got a lot of fight left in us and we’re not going to give up.”

“As a leader, I’ve just come out each and every day fired up. I want to let these guys know that what happened last weekend is unacceptable, and it won’t happen again. We continue to prepare for this weekend and, as a leader, I just made sure I keep their heads up.”

Jennings is one of the veteran players on the roster. He has seen it all in his time on Rocky Top, from missing 11 games with an injury in 2017 to catching a game-winning Hail Mary at Georgia in 2016 to leading the Vols to an upset at Auburn in 2018. He even has thrown two touchdown passes (in 2015 and 2016) and recorded an interception.

He needs just six more receptions to become the 22nd Vol with 100 career catches. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native has 94 receptions for 1,292 yards and 11 touchdowns over his 38-game career.

Jennings said he liked the fight the Vols showed in practice on Monday night.

“We’ve responded well,” Jennings noted. “These guys are hungry. I’m hungry. We’re all hungry. We can’t wait to get back on Saturday and show how much we’ve prepared for this game.”

UT Partnering with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to Provide Special Gameday Experience for Kids

In partnership with the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Curing Kids Cancer, Beads of Courage and Special Spectators, UT will provide an unforgettable experience at this Saturday’s game for children battling severe illnesses.

The children will receive star treatment from KPD with a police escort from ETCH to their exclusive tailgate in Tennessee Park, where there will be a catered tailgate with food and Vols swag bags for the kids. The children and their families will enjoy a premier view of the Vol Walk prior to taking the field to meet the University of Tennessee Spirit Squad, Smokey, Smokey X and to watch the Vols during warm-ups.

After the pregame sideline experience, the children and their families will get the chance to cheer on the Vols with complimentary tickets. Through the Beads of Courage program, members of the football team and spirit squad will carry or wear “Acts of Courage” beads during the game. The beads, orange with a white Power T, are then given to kids after a particularly tough treatment or when they need an extra boost of encouragement. Tennessee’s coaches and staff will also be sporting special whistles in support of Curing Kids Cancer.

UTK 225: The Vols will celebrate the 225th anniversary of the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus by wearing helmet decals.

VFL Weekend: Former players and staff are invited to participate in the Vol Walk prior to the game among other activities.

Pregame Flyover: Prior to kickoff there will be a pregame flyover performed by the 134th Air Refueling Wing (134 ARW)/Tennessee Air National Guard, stationed at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, as well.

Vols-Cougars to Air in Primetime on ESPN

Saturday’s game between Tennessee and BYU will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET. Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy and Tom Luginbill will have the call.

 

Week 2 Player Media Availability | Sept. 3, 2019

Redshirt Senior WR Jauan Jennings

On how he ensures that the rest of his teammates have his same competitiveness:
“As a leader, I’ve just come out each and every day fired up. I want to let these guys know that what happened last weekend is unacceptable, and it won’t happen again. We continue to prepare for this weekend and, as a leader, I just made sure I keep their heads up.”

On what his message has been to his teammates the past couple of days:
“My message has been to come out each and every day to get better. Don’t come out there with no energy. We’ve got to have energy each and every day. That’s just how we’re going to do this thing from here on out. This team – they believe in me and I believe in them. That’s all that matters.”

On if the team has lacked the energy that he would like to have in the past:
“I wouldn’t say just didn’t have any energy, but just the assertiveness. We’ve got to come out there and put it together real quick. This weekend is the only game that we have to worry about.”

On if he blocks out negativity:
“It’s definitely blocked out. There’s no way I couldn’t see it, because we have such a big fanbase. Me, as a leader, we did let our Vol fans down this past weekend and we’re going to continue to get better. We’ll just hope that they’re going to have our backs through it all.”

On if he can remain focused despite outside negativity:
“I didn’t sign up for a one game fight. This is a 12-game fight. That’s what we’re going to do each and every week from here on out. That’s all we’ve got to do, prepare and focus on one game at a time.”

On how he feels the team has responded to the loss:
“We’ve responded well. These guys are hungry. I’m hungry. We’re all hungry. We can’t wait to get back on Saturday and show how much we’ve prepared for this game.”

On if he likes the leadership on this team:
“I am the leader. We’re going to get this right. I’m not worried about anything else other than this team and what we’ve got going here because it’s a great program. There are great people here and a lot of people here with talent that are ready to go out and execute. We’re going to get that done.”

On why he felt the need to take control of the team:
“This past Saturday, even though I am saying it’s in the past, we can talk about. I feel like this team wasn’t juiced up on the sideline and as a leader I take full responsibility for that. I’ve got to be out there, and I’ve got to be in their heads, in their ears 24/7. As a leader, I admit that I did not do that. This week and here on out, that’s what I’m going to focus on doing – making sure that this team knows that we’ve got a lot of fight left in us and we’re not going to give up.”

 

Redshirt Junior OL Ryan Johnson

On if he uses outside noise as motivation or blocks it out:
“You’ve got to take it day-by-day. That’s been my motto. I’ve told people that from the beginning. You’ve got to take it day-by-day: one day at a time; one play at a time. You can’t focus on the outside stuff. You’ve got to focus on doing your job, doing your play. We’re focused on BYU and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re not looking in the past. We’re not looking to future. We’re focused on the now and the present, doing the best that we can, and doing everything that we can do to beat BYU.”

On how tough it is to keep focus and understand that there’s still a whole season left to play:
“You really can’t focus on external factors. Like I said, you can’t focus on the past. I’m an offensive lineman, so you’ve got to take it one play at a time. It’s a lock and clear mentality and that’s the way I’ve treated my entire life playing offensive line. That’s something that you’ve got to do in life anyway. Bad things happen, whether that’s in football or life. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. It’s one game. We’re moving on and we’re focused on the now and the present. I think that’s the vibe in the locker room. I think we’ve got a lot of guys excited about this week. I think we’ve got a lot of guys that are preparing really hard for this week and that’s the important thing.”

On what the mood was like in the locker room in the days after the game:
“I think the locker room is prepared. They’re locked in. They’re doing a good job of preparing. We had a good practice yesterday and I think the guys are really locking in and focused on trying to do the best that they can game planning and preparing for BYU. We’ve got a lot of guys that are stepping up and some of the older guys, myself included, are trying to push the younger guys and the other guys on the team. We’re trying to make sure that everybody does their part and does their best. We’re trying to make sure that we get the best out of this team.”

On if he believes that the team is using Saturday’s loss as motivation:
“Everything in the past is motivation. You always have to use the past and learn from the past. It’s important to learn from the past. I’m a big fan of history. My girlfriend gives me a hard time. Sometimes I’ll be sitting there watching World War II in Colour and she’s like, ‘I’m falling asleep.’ Or, I’m watching a documentary or something. But I really do. I enjoy history because you can learn a lot from history. You don’t want to repeat the past, but you can also take things from the past and learn for the future, whether it’s good or bad. That being said, I think we can learn a lot of things from Georgia State. It’s important to remember, not just in football but in life, you’ve got to focus on what’s up next. You’ve got to focus on the present, because if you keep dwelling in the past, then you’re going to repeat the past. What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to learn from the past, lock and clear, and do our job to prepare for this game – the present and do our job today at practice. Take it one play at a time and that’s all we can do. I think the guys have got a great mentality and a great mindset to do that.”

On what it means that both Tennessee and BYU are coming off disappointing losses ahead of Saturday’s matchup:
“We don’t try to focus on that. We really just try to focus on doing our job. The game of football is about you. It’s about your team. A wise man once told me that when you’re preparing for a football game, you should be preparing for yourself. What I mean by that is you should focus on you. You shouldn’t focus on the other team. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t study the other team, but you should focus on doing the best you can. You can’t let external factors, other things, get in the way because in reality, it’s about you. It’s about doing your job. That’s all you can do. You can’t worry about other things. You can’t worry about all the other things in life. That’s a life thing, really. You control what you can control. God’s going to control everything else. You just have to control what you can control and know that you’re not the one that’s in charge. You’re the one that can do everything you can do. That’s all you have to do every day. You wake up and do the best that you can do and that’s enough.

 

Redshirt Senior OL Brandon Kennedy

On the team’s response to the loss to Georgia State:
“I think the response was that we just learn from our mistakes, see what we did wrong, and we move on to BYU as we prepare for them.”

On Coach Pruitt’s message to the team:
“We just need to go out and play clean. If we can play clean and eliminate mistakes, then we will be able to win a football game.”

On the frequent rotation of the offensive line:
“I think it is great to have different people rotate in, because we are able to get more guys that are able to play winning football.”

On the lack of emphasis on the run game on offense, and if game plan will change for this week:
“I definitely think we will get back to the basics and fundamentals this week as we prepare for BYU.”

 

Junior DB Theo Jackson

On the criticism from the media:
“We try not to worry about outside noise. We just have to know what we need to focus on for the upcoming week.”

On Shawn Shamburger’s performance against Georgia State:
“He played well. Coach (Derrick) Ansley called some plays that put him in position to make plays, and ultimately he had a good game.”

On how to defend the BYU offense:
“We need to have a good pass rush and good coverage in the back end.”

On how the team plans to rally around each other following the loss to Georgia State:
“It was a very disappointing loss, but at a time like this, we all came together that Sunday and met without the coaches to go over what we need to do to get better for the future and not let this happen again.”

 

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