Since his hiring in December, Butch Jones has given Volunteer fans every reason to be enamored with their new head football coach.
Whether it be the recruitment of highly-touted high school players or screaming into a microphone as the Vols practiced in front of droves of fans, Jones has given UT reason for optimism.
With the anticipation of the 2013 UT season at it's climax, the Butch Jones era officially began on Saturday as the Vols defeated the Austin Peay Governors 45-0.
Even though Saturday resulted in Jones' first victory as UT's head coach, he placed the milestone of the program reaching its 800th win over his own.
Elevating tradition over every other aspect is nothing new for Jones.
"I don't think we should ever undervalue that," Jones said in regards to the milestone victory. "That is something that is very, very special in the world of college football, it's part of our tradition and there are only eight total teams in all of college football that can speak in those terms relative to winning 800-plus games now in their program.
"I want to thank all the former players, the coaches and everyone that has really laid the foundation and the hard work for this football program."
With all the excitement around the program and pressure on Jones, Austin Peay may not have been the biggest test on paper, but it was still his only chance to make a good first impression on the Volunteer faithful. Regardless, as game day dawned on Neyland Stadium, he said he was not nervous.
"I wasn't," Jones said. "I thought we had our best two practices of the year Wednesday and Thursday. I thought our players were locked in. Tuesday was average. We really challenged them, and on Wednesday and Thursday, their preparation was outstanding. You win the game through your preparation over the course of the week. We knew we had done all we could do. We had exposed them to just about every situation.
"I was more concerned that we had over-prepared them. I could tell at the walkthrough this morning that they had that look in their eye and they were ready."
Any questions or doubts about this team were put away, for the time being, early in the game as the Vols jumped on the Govs quickly and never looked back.
More important than the score was the effort and energy the entire team came out with, from the starters to the third stringers – an effort that senior right tackle Ja'Wuan James said comes from the inspiration their coach gives them.
"It definitely makes you lock in and it makes you excited to go out there and play with effort," James said. "That's all he talks about, playing with effort, and playing with energy. If the defense makes a big play, they should be chest-bumping, if we make a big play we should chest-bump – just keep high energy throughout the game. So it is good to have him in the huddle calling the play."
Jones' players are not the only ones, however. The former Cincinnati coach has been known to add to that high energy on the sidelines.
"I am not going to lie, it is exciting," said Rajion Neal, senior running back. "I like to see how energized he (Jones) gets on the sidelines. It gives you a giant boost. You don't see too many coaches come in and be jacked up as much as he is."
While it was a successful debut for Jones, he made it clear that his attention is devoted to continuing that success in this week's game.
"I'm already thinking about Western Kentucky," Jones said. "We'll enjoy this one tonight but the more you win, the more (that) is at stake. We're going to be challenged by a really good football team coming in here. We're going to enjoy it, but we've got a lot of work to do."