Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt met with the media following his team’s first scrimmage of the fall on Sunday. He was frustrated with some aspects, but fairly positive overall about his team.
“Inconsistent on both sides of the ball and too many undisciplined penalties,” Pruitt began. “We took care of the ball when we ran it, but we turned it over when we put it in the air. We did create some explosive plays. We need to do a better job of protecting the quarterback and the quarterbacks have to do a better job of getting the ball out of his hand.”
Pruitt sounded pleased overall with his run game, which is going to be the bread and butter of Tyson Helton’s offense. “I think our running backs ran pretty well today,” Pruitt said. “We got improved blocking on the perimeter from the wide receivers.”
A big part of Pruitt’s story since he arrived in Knoxville has been experimenting with the roster in an attempt to maximize what he’s got. With most of those positions now set, the competition for starting jobs is on. Once those players are set, Tennessee should begin to take some steps forward, Pruitt explained today.
“As we get into figuring out who the players are going to be a which spots, that gives us an opportunity to try and find some consistency and rhythm — you know, we’re not there yet. There’s still lots of competition. That will probably be ongoing for a lot of positions throughout fall camp and throughout the year.”
Younger players like Bryce Thompson and Alontae Taylor are in the mix for some of those starting spots. Today was their first opportunity in somewhat of a game setting to show what they have.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys that really don’t know how to do it,” Pruitt said. “They’re plenty capable. We’re giving them opportunities and this was their first chance out there. As the scrimmage went, the better they got. So that’s a good thing, that’s a positive. That means we didn’t make a mistake when we recruited them.”
We are now under three weeks until Tennessee faces West Virginia in the opener in Charlotte. We may see some baptism by fire early on, but expect this team to get better as 2018 goes on.