Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt had positive things to say about the offensive side of the ball this week.
“I’ve really been excited about our offensive unit…They play with an attitude. I’ve been excited about them,” said Pruitt this weekend during a virtual media session with reporters.
The defensive side of the ball, however, is a different story.
Pruitt didn’t sound particularly happy with the defense. In fact, he said he was “disappointed” in the defense — specifically up front.
“Defensively, to me, has been very disappointing especially up front. Just lack of physicality to finish. It is something that we definitely have to improve on over the next three weeks,” explained Pruitt.
This is a bit surprising to hear, considering the Vols’ defensive line is comprised of mostly upperclassmen.
Guys like Darel Middleton, Aubrey Solomon, and Matthew Butler are expected to anchor the line (losing Emmit Gooden, who was dismissed from this team this summer following an arrest, hurts depth). That group has plenty of experience.
I think this is probably a situation, though, where Tennessee will end up being fine defensively.
Pruitt has high standards and it’s certainly possible that he was using his press conference to motivate his defensive linemen (and defense as a whole).
The offense and defense love to compete against each other in practice (just ask linebacker Quavaris Crouch and running back Eric Gray), so I’m sure the Vols’ defensive players will be eager to prove Pruitt wrong after hearing these comments.
At least they should be. If not, it might mean Pruitt is right. And that would be a bad sign for Tennessee in 2020.
Featured image via Randy Sartin/USA TODAY