KNOXVILLE — Tennessee wide receiver Gerald Jones only thought he’d survived the most frustrating stretch of his college football career when he was injured as a freshman.
“That frustration was nowhere compared to this that I have right now,” the junior said Monday.
Jones was the most productive offensive player in 2008 with an average of 10.8 catches and 5.5 rushes per game but he has only three catches this season in the three games in which he has played.
In the 34-23 win against Ohio, he broke free from the safety and found himself wide open, but Jonathan Crompton didn’t see him. Frustrated, Jones hesitated on the field for a few extra seconds and took off his helmet before heading to the sideline, earning him a lecture from coach Lane Kiffin.
Jones said he’s only frustrated with himself and not his teammates or coaches and apologized to his teammates and coaches.
“You know, it’s hard after two seasons of really being somewhat of a go-to guy on the offense, and then this year not really getting as much catches as I thought I would — it’s really humbling,” he said. “I feel like if I’m not catching the ball or making plays, I’m not helping the team.”
Kiffin expressed some frustration with his wide receivers playing inconsistently and dropping four passes against the Bobcats.
“We’ve got to figure out who our receivers are,” he said. “A guy will make a play, and then he won’t make a play. He’ll line up right, and then he won’t line up right. It makes it hard on your quarterback to be consistent if we’re not consistent outside.”
Kiffin said he was disappointed with some of the decisions Crompton made when he hung on to the ball. The coach said Crompton needs to work on accuracy when throwing to his right.
Kiffin also praised the Vols’ performance in their two-minute offensive scheme against Ohio.
“To go, I want to say 46 yards in 40 seconds, to get a field goal at the end of the first half was really good to see. It was a momentum boost going into the locker room,” he said. “Those are valuable points that you can get really quick.”
LOOKING FOR LINEBACKERS: Coaches will try a number of different players at different spots to determine the best rotation at linebacker.
The Vols (2-2) must find a way to fill a hole created when starting middle linebacker Nick Reveiz tore a knee ligament against Ohio. The junior will miss the rest of the season while recovering.
“We need to do what’s best not just for today but for the long run,” Kiffin said. “We’re going to look at a bunch of different things this week and figure it out as fast as we can.”
Junior Savion Frazier practiced at middle linebacker Monday instead of at his usual weak-side spot and said the challenge in making the change is mental.
“I know the checks and calls,” Frazier said. “You’ve got to know them to play linebacker. I’ve just never made the checks, so now the checks are all on me, so I have to make them. That’s the biggest challenge right there.”
Starter LaMarcus Thompson, who sat out the Ohio game with a sore back, practiced some Monday, but Kiffin said he would be day to day.
BACK AT IT: Defensive back Dennis Rogan was held out against Ohio to serve a one-game suspension but returned to practice Monday. Kiffin did not specify why he was suspended.
“It’s good to have him back,” Kiffin said. “He’s one of the best players on our team, and he was obviously missed during the game. He needs to do the right things off the field so that he can produce for us on the field.”
Kiffin was not sure whether wide receiver Quintin Hancock would return to action when Tennessee faces Auburn on Saturday. Hancock, who suffered a fractured jaw against Florida, was scheduled to return to the doctor today.
ORANGE SLICES: A decision on television coverage and the game time of the Oct. 10 UT-Georgia game has been delayed for a few days. Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said the game would be scheduled for sometime between noon and 3:30 p.m. ... Auburn holds the all-time series lead over the Vols 26-21-3. Tennessee has won 14 of 24 contests in Knoxville. ... The last 12 games in the Auburn series are split 5-5-2 between the schools, and nine of those contests have been decided by 10 points or fewer.