Tennessee just wrapped up spring practice No. 6 and the second full week of on-field work under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt. One of the biggest areas that the new coaching staff needed to iron out was the offensive line — which is still banged up dating back to last season.
Without a few key members this spring, including Trey Smith, Tennessee is giving plenty of early reps to some fresh faces.
Pruitt was asked specifically if any leaders were emerging on the offensive line, he responded by naming Will Friend — who is the offensive line coach. I’m not sure that’s the answer we were looking for, but Pruitt has been really hesitant in naming name so far with the media.
“Some days you’ve got guys doing what they need to do, some days they’re not,” Pruitt said. “That’s why we’re not where we need to be. The whole deal is to get everybody to play at the best all of the time.”
That’s a real coach-speaky answer from Pruitt, but he did give some substance after that.
“For the offensive line, it’s a completely new system,” Pruitt said. “There’s lots of things that they’re doing now that they haven’t done before. So there’s a learning curve. You’ve also got guys playing different and multiple positions. They’re working hard at it. They’ve improved — today was probably the biggest improvement that I’ve seen from the offensive line from practice to practice.”
No matter how hard the media tries, we just aren’t going to get Pruitt to name names right now. Maybe that changes in the future. It is at least somewhat encouraging to hear that some progress was made.
With lingering questions at quarterback, winning up front has never been more important. Tennessee wasn’t able to win the line of scrimmage last year with inconsistent quarterback play. We saw how that combination played out.
For Pruitt and Will Friend, maybe getting these throw-em-in-the-fire reps in during the spring will pay off in the long run for guys like Jerome Carvin and Ollie Lane. It sounds like they are being worked in at multiple spots up front, which is never a bad thing for depth players.
Tennessee will be back on the practice field on Tuesday.