Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt met with the media Wednesday evening over Zoom. Pruitt discussed the Vols’ readiness ahead of their road trip to South Carolina in his last media availability before kickoff.
"We’ve had three really good practices this week,” Pruitt said. “You can tell that our players are excited about the opportunity to play. We know that we are playing a very well-coached team that’s got very good players.”
Saturday’s matchup pits Pruitt against a pair of coaches he’s familiar with. Pruitt is close with the Gamecock’s head coach Will Muschamp and worked with their new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo at Georgia in 2015.
Pruitt and Bobo will certainly have familiarity with one another and what the other likes to do on their perspective side of the ball.
Pruitt was asked if he has to be careful that he doesn’t hone in on concepts that were prevalent for Bobo at Georgia but not anymore.
“You just look at the whole body of work,” Pruitt said. “It’s like this for the first game or the first two or three games every year. People can change, but when you’ve done it as well as he’s done over the years, I wouldn’t suspect he would change a whole lot.”
“Mike is one of the best coaches in the country, great competitor. I loved working with him. We’ll get after each other on Saturday and probably talk a little trash during the summertime.”
It’s an unusual opening game for everyone in the SEC. The Vols will open their season against a SEC opponent for the first time since 1988 when they opened with Georgia.
Then you add that Tennessee has had dozens of players miss two weeks of practice this fall camp due to COVID-19 protocols. Pruitt knows his team will make mistakes Saturday but playing through them is the key.
“With our guys, we l know that we are going to make some mistakes in the game, and we are going to play through them,” Pruitt said. “Our guys have got to play fast. Hopefully, we’ll get better as the game goes. We’re excited about this week. We’ve got to continue to improve over the next two days, we have a lot of work to get in in all three phases and can’t wait to do it.”
Season openers haven’t gone well for Pruitt at Tennessee, earning losses to West Virginia and Georgia State. Pruitt says that those games are in the past and that the keys to this game are no different than any other football game.
“Don’t turn the ball over, get turnovers. All the coach speak, you know?” Pruitt said. “Create explosive plays, gang tackle, score touchdowns when we get in the red area, keep them from doing it. That’s what wins and loses games. We’ve got 60 minutes to prove that we’re the best team on Saturday.”
Kickoff from Columbia Saturday night is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on SEC Network.