To this point, we haven’t heard Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt talk much about his week one opponent. Pruitt declined questions about West Virginia throughout training camp, saying that his staff had yet to focus on the Mountaineers. But today, he gave his take on what the Mountaineers bring to the table.
“West Virginia is a very talented team,” Pruitt told the media on Monday. “I think you have to start with the quarterback position. (Will Grier) is very talented. He can make all the throws, he can beat you with his feet, he can extend plays. He’s a runner — he’s tough and has lots of experience.”
Tennessee fans know all about Grier. The former Gator was a part of that devastating 2015 loss in the swamp, which featured a last minute touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway. Today, Grier is one of college football’s best quarterbacks and should hear his name called early in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Grier will be a handful for the Vols, and so will his weapons.
“You look at wide receivers, they’ve got two guys that probably caught over 150 balls last year alone,” Pruitt said. “(David Sills V) had 18 touchdowns in the red area, so these guys go get the ball. They have really good ball skills, they’re instinctive and they compete for balls in the air.”
Gary Jennings Jr. caught 97 passes last season to eclipse 1,000 yards. David Sills V caught 60 balls for 980 yards, 18 of which went for touchdowns. That’s a spectacular stat.
Pruitt noted that the Mountaineers aren’t all about the pass, either. “They’re committed to running the football. So defensively, we’ll have our hands full.”
Where Tennessee may hold an advantage is on the other side of the ball. West Virginia finished 96th in defense last year, according to the S&P+ rankings. With only six of those players returning, the Mountaineers will look a little different this year.
“Defensively for them, they’re very multiple.” Pruitt said. “They give you different looks. They have six returning starters back. They create a lot of negative plays and have been opportunistic as far as getting turnovers. We’ve got to be able to take care of the football and stay in positive down and distances and block the different looks that they give you up front.”
Tennessee and West Virginia will kick off live on CBS this Saturday at 3:30 PM eastern.