Jones: Tennessee 'well aware' of issues with Neyland's field condition

Jones: Tennessee 'well aware' of issues with Neyland's field condition

November 9th, 2015 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Tennessee's Cameron Sutton (7) cuts to avoid South Carolina's Mason Zandi (74) on a punt return. The South Carolina Gamecocks visited the Tennessee Volunteers in SEC football action November 7, 2015.

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE -- The playing surface at Neyland Stadium wasn't given credit for making any tackles in the box score of Saturday's game between Tennessee and South Carolina.

Perhaps it should have.

Players from both teams were slipping all over the wet field as chunks of grass were ripped up over the course of the Volunteers' 27-24 win against the Gamecocks.

It's the second straight season Neyland's field has become a talking point, and Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Monday morning that there was even a meeting about it prior to his 10 a.m. press conference.

Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones (left) talks with South Carolina's interim head coach Shawn Elliott before the start of the game. The South Carolina Gamecocks visited the Tennessee Volunteers in SEC football action November 7, 2015.

Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones (left) talks...

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

"It is difficult when you're slipping, and I think sometimes it creates hesitation amongst your players," Jones said. "But I also think it's been an unusual season in terms of grass. I'm not a grass expert or a field expert. I think the unusual season with the rye grass, all that goes into it.

"I can tell you this: We're well aware of it. We're taking every precaution. Everything we can, we're doing. And we had a meeting today on it, and we'll continue to work to have the best playing surface in the country. We were slipping, but there's been a lot of places around the country that's been like that.

"We're well aware of it, and we are working to get it corrected as much and the best that we can at this particular time."

Tennessee's game against South Carolina was its first at home in nearly a month, but the field did not hold up well after it was soaked by rain most of Saturday before the late-afternoon kick.

The field again was re-sodded during the offseason, and Tennessee imported heat lamps from the Netherlands last season to help the condition later in the season.

Defensive end Derek Barnett said after Saturday's game that he changed shoes at halftime to get better traction.

Quarterback Josh Dobbs on Monday said the players didn't view the field as an issue.

"We know our grounds crew is going to do whatever they can given the circumstances to come out and give us the best playing surface," Dobbs said.

"We're thankful for the people we have and the ability to go out and compete at Neyland on the surface we have. As a player, we kind of just focus on what we can control."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.


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