Jeremy Pruitt postgame - Tennessee vs. South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 26, 2020 - Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Tennessee Volunteers at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Yesterday Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke to the media after a disappointing loss to Georgia this past weekend.

“You know going back and looking at the game on Saturday,” Pruitt began. “To start offensively, didn’t execute at a very good level at all. Done a very poor job of communicating. Lots of times we had the wrong MIKE spot, who we’re pushing to on our points, running the football in protection – gotta do a much better job of that. It’s hard to have success if you don’t understand who the MIKE is. Gotta play faster on the perimeter, gotta do a better job of protecting the quarterback, gotta establish the run game and obviously gotta take care of the football. Too many penalties on offense, didn’t take care of the football – never got in a rhythm of being good at anything that we wanted to do on Saturday. We threw a couple of balls down the field that created a couple of explosive plays there, but because of the penalties, getting behind the chains really kept us from being able to get in rhythm. You have to give them (Georgia) credit for that. Lots of things we have to improve on there.”

Pruitt also touched on the outing by the defense.

“Defensively,” Pruitt said. “There were a lot of guys that played really hard, but we didn’t always play smart. Made a lot of mistakes on third down – kept them on the field. Had a couple of penalties there that they converted on, but a lot of positives to me there we can clean up and grow … we did get two turnovers, a turnover on downs twice. That was much improved there. But, the most penalties we’ve had the entire season, which is disappointing. We’ve got to work hard to improve that and our kids will.”

Pruitt wrapped up his opening statement talking about the special teams performance.

“Special teams,” Pruitt said. “had one return there on kickoff that missed a tackle on the 15-yard line. Had a couple of guys who didn’t get off blocks and that was disappointing there. Lots of things we can learn from, from this game that we can improve on. The biggest thing is, it’s no different week in and week out, No. 1 is you have to be able to care of the football.”

During the session, Pruitt was asked whether they considered making a change at quarterback last Saturday, but defended his quarterback’s play.

“Well Jarrett (Guarantano) is our quarterback.” Pruitt said “He gives us the best opportunity to have success. When you have 1st and 20, it’s tough to make first downs. When you have 2nd and 15, it’s tough to make first downs. We didn’t do a very good job protecting. We didn’t play very fast on the perimeter. It’s the way the game goes. I played quarterback. When you don’t have a lot of success, the quarterback takes too much blame. When you have a lot of success, the quarterback probably gets too much credit. Offensively, our struggle Saturday was not because of one independent person. It was a team effort. We understand that. It starts with us as coaches to put our guys in a better position to have success.”

In other news, the Vols had a Sunday scrimmage that featured a lot of youth. 

“It was really good.” Pruitt said “I think we took like 49 snaps and Harrison (Bailey) took every one of them. For him, that was really good because based off the way our fall camp went, he didn’t get a lot of live action. We just didn’t have enough plays for him to get in there and get going. So, it was good for him. It was good for a lot of players. A lot of energy. There were a lot of guys that, to me, that kind of stuck out, so we got to continue to do this and give these guys an opportunity to develop … Tamarion (McDonald), last night was the first time that he’s really had any contact during fall camp, and I thought he was one of the bright spots of the scrimmage last night, so that was good to see.”

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