Monday, Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt held his weekly opening press conference after the Vols suffered their fourth straight loss this past weekend, this time falling to Arkansas.
“Reviewing Saturday’s game and looking at the first half,” Pruit said. “I thought we did some things really well. I thought we ran the ball extremely well in the first half, but as you look at the way the game played out, starting in the first half, we obviously didn’t create enough explosive plays in the passing game. As a coaching staff, we have to do a much better job of creating opportunities for our guys.”
Despite leading at halftime, it was in the third quarter that that things fell off the rails for Tennessee, as the Razorback dominated that frame.
“In the second half, offensively,” Pruitt said. “Me had a couple of penalties on some opportunities where we did throw the ball. We didn’t make a couple of throws there. Obviously, Jarrett (Guarantano) got hurt in the third quarter and went out of the game. To me, just philosophically on offense, we’ve got to be much more aggressive. We’ve got to push the ball down the field. That’s something that we’ve talked about as a staff and have continued to talk about it.”
Defensively, the Vols played better but again, the third quarter was the glaring exception.
“Defensively, for three out of four quarters,” Pruitt said. “I thought our guys played pretty well. In the third quarter, starting with the opening drive of the second half, third downs were third-and-2, (third and) 3 and (third and) 5. In the first half, we kept them to a little bit longer down and distances. I felt like we had a chance to get off the field twice there and didn’t execute calls like we needed to.”
It was the mistakes that really hampered the chances for success by the Tennessee defense.
“Going back to look at it,” Pruitt said. “We need to play cleaner on defense. I felt like our guys did that for the majority of the game. We just had a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of it. That’s something that we’ve got to eliminate.”
Looking forward to Texas A&M, the Vols will have to deal with their mistakes if they want to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.
“Watching their tape over the last day,” Pruitt said. “They’re one of the more complete teams that I’ve seen in our league. I’m very familiar with Jimbo (Fisher), after working with him in the past. Offensively, Kellen Mond seems like he’s been playing there forever. Isaiah Spiller, along with the other three running backs they play, is very talented. They’ve got a huge offensive line. I think they’re giving up the least amount of sacks in the SEC.”
In addition to a strong offense, the Aggies have a well-balanced team as they also have a stout defense and quality special teams.
“They’ve got playmakers on the outside defensively.” Pruitt said. “They create a lot of negative plays. When it comes to production, I think they’re first or second in our conference. It will be a tremendous challenge for us. Looking at their special teams, they’ve got really good return guys and they’ve got good specialists. We’ll need to find a way to create an advantage in the kicking game.”
Currently, Texas A&M football is virtual due to COVID positive results, but the Aggies are still planning on playing this weekend.