This evening Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke to the media ahead on this Saturday’s home opener in Neyland Stadium. Facing off against the Vols, will be Eliah Drinkwitz and the Missouri Tigers who come to Knoxville following a disappointing week one loss to Alabama.
“When you look at this Missouri team,” Pruitt said. “Really came away impressed, especially with what coach Drinkwitz and his staff have done without spring ball. Probably not your usual summer and fall camp. The way they put it together in the last game, I know the game didn't turn out the way they wanted, but just watching them play, the way they play, the toughness they played with. They never quit. The physicality. Very well coached. I'm sure they're just like us from Week one to Week two, they want to make as much improvement as they possibly can. So, we will definitely need to play a complete game to have a shot at this game. It's a challenge to our players in trying to create the right habits fundamentally in all three phases. It's something we've tried to address over the last four days here since the first game.”
Pruitt spoke about the different challenges that the Tigers pose to the Vols this week. For when Tennessee is on offense, the biggest thing that he seemed to focus on was not allowing the Missouri defense to put them in bad situations.
“To start with their defense, eliminating them from creating negative plays for us. We don't need negative plays [and] we don't need to get behind the sticks. We need to be in manageable third downs. We obviously have nowhere to go but up when it comes to third down. Being able to run the football, especially in the second half, was a challenge for Alabama last week. They've done an outstanding job of doing that. They've always played tight coverage.”
Turning to the Tigers’ offense, Pruitt praised the creativity of the Drinkwitz offensive system and harped on the necessity for the Tennessee defense to main gap integrity.
“When you look at them on offense,” Pruitt said. “Coach Drinkwitz, he's very creative. He mixes in a little bit of option out of the gun with counter and gap schemes. They spread the ball around, they stretch you defensively horizontally and vertically. Maintaining our gaps and assignments and finding a way to create negative plays for them. Getting some turnovers, holding them to field goals in the red area.”
For Missouri’s special teams, Pruitt simply complimented the unit as a whole.
“Special teams,” Pruitt said. “They've got good specialists, kickers and returners. It will be a tremendous challenge for us, but it is something that we are looking forward to. We are grateful to have an opportunity to play.”
Switching views to the Vols special teamers, after a couple of lapses this past Saturday, Pruitt expressed confidence in his players.
"It consists of about a third of our practice every time we go out there,” Pruitt said. “There's nothing to figure out for me. Will Albright is going to go out there and snap again. He's a guy that I believe in. He made a mistake. I made a lot more mistakes Saturday than he did, I can assure you.”