The Vols vs. Kentucky
Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt stands in front of his defensive team while facing the Kentucky Wildcats away in Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at Kroger Field.

Tennessee hit the practice field for practice number 10 of fall camp Saturday, but the Vols were far from full strength when they took the field at Neyland Stadium.

“We were gonna scrimmage Wednesday and ended up backing it up to today, but we didn’t scrimmage,” Pruitt said. “We have way too many guys out. We had 44 players not practice today, and they haven’t practiced for the last three or four practices.”

“All those guys are not COVID related. … I don’t know the exact number COVID related but I think it’s close to 27-28 when you talk about quarantining people also.”

Pruitt added that “about seven or eight” players are currently positive. The majority of problems for Tennessee have come from contact tracing and players having to quarantine for two weeks.

“The big issue for us has really been the contact tracing,” Pruitt said. “That’s where we’ve had, I believe to this day we’ve had 48 guys miss at least 14 days through the quarantine and four of those guys have been quarantined twice.”

The undermanned practice was just the third on the week as the Vols have been dealing with number problems going back to last weekend when the Vols canceled their Friday practice.

Tennessee has practiced 10 times in just over three weeks with only six of those practices coming in full pads. That’s a serious problem for Tennessee given that Pruitt stated those 44 have missed “the last three or four practices.” Could that be a bit of hyperbole from Pruitt? Certainly, but even if a third of the team -- 28 players -- have missed half of UT’s full contact practices that’s a major setback.

That problem is magnified with Pruitt believing that they wouldn’t use their full allotment of practices.

“With the contact tracing and the numbers as they add up it’s been very tough to prepare our team,” Pruitt said. “We get 25 practices; we’ll probably end up practicing 20-222 times unless something changes over the next few weeks. We’re learning as we go.”

Despite the amount of Vols that have been in contact with someone that’s tested positive he doesn’t believe his players aren’t taking the issue seriously. 

“I think our guys are trying to do the right thing,” Pruitt said. “If someone that you live with gets it, you’re in quarantine, in least in our county that’s how it is, and it might be like that everywhere, I don’t know. We’ve had some of that. I don’t think it’s something where our players aren’t being responsible. I definitely don’t think that. … We try to be as safe as we can but there’s no guarantees.”

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