The West Virginia Mountaineers made sure Tennessee Vols fans weren’t singing Rocky Top in celebration on Saturday night in Charlotte.
Tennessee was unable to stop the high powered West Virginia offense, falling 40-14.
While the Jeremy Pruitt era didn’t get off to 1-0 start, there were still some good things that happened on Saturday (which I’ll detail some of below).
I think it’s pretty clear that Tennessee is a work in progress. Anyone that expected the Vols to win on Saturday was obviously wearing orange tinted glasses. This was the Vols’ first game since last year’s disastrous season finale against Vanderbilt. Even if Jeremy Pruitt is the second coming of Nick Saban, there was no way Tennessee was going to turn into Alabama in just nine months.
Remember, even Saban had some trials and tribulations in his first season in Tuscaloosa (a loss to Louisiana-Monroe).
The Vols will be ok, but it’s not going to be a fun season if all you care about is wins and losses. Eventually, however, I think we’ll see some pretty positive things happening on Rocky Top.
Here are my main takeaways from Tennessee’s loss to West Virginia.
- The Vols’ coaching staff did a nice job of making in-game adjustments, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Tyson Helton did a nice job with play calling, especially when the offensive line looked out of sync.
- Speaking of the offensive line, Jeremy Pruitt is clearly still trying to figure out the right combination of players that will be most effective. Brandon Kennedy, who transferred from Alabama, didn’t have his strongest game at center.
- Tennessee’s secondary still needs some work — they have a lot of youth. Jeremy Pruitt has a proven track record in this area, so eventually it will come together.
- The pass rush was pretty much non-existent. Will Grier is a pocket passer, it’s not like he’s an elusive dual-threat quarterback. Tennessee has to get this fixed as soon as possible or it’s going to be a long season.
- Marquez Callaway is definitely the go-to wide receiver on this team. The Vols need to continue to find ways to get him involved.
- Running back Ty Chandler left the game early with an injury. Tim Jordan stepped up in a big way, rushing for over 100 yards. Jordan showed a lot of toughness on Saturday. I think the Vols have another solid under-the-radar running back.
- Tennessee’s still developing their identity on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Pruitt knows who he wants his team to be defensively, but he doesn’t have the personnel to make it happen.
- Jarrett Guarantano showed nice poise. He seemed to have much better pocket awareness and the offense ran a lot more efficiently than it did a season ago with him under center. Overall, I liked what the offense did on Saturday. I think their performance was a big step in the right direction.
Featured image via Twitter