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Jones savors challenge of rebuilding Tennessee

By news admin

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee coach Butch Jones realizes that returning a storied Volunteers program to Southeastern Conference contention is going to be a gradual process.

Jones is trying to rebuild a program that has posted three straight losing seasons, the first time that's happened at Tennessee since 1909-11. An unforgiving early-season schedule will make it tough to end that streak. Five of Tennessee's first eight games are against teams ranked ninth or higher in last year's final Top 25.

Tennessee's offense lacks proven skill-position players. The defense is trying to bounce back from a season in which it allowed the most points (35.7) and yards (471.4) per game of any SEC team.

But the Volunteers believe they can turn things around after winning just one SEC game each of the last two years.