Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt is not in an enviable position right now.
The Vols are 2-3 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak. To make matters worse, the losing streak includes a loss to Kentucky (and Tennessee has lost all three games by at least 23 points).
The fan base is getting restless. We haven’t seen any improvement from the Vols this season. In fact, it feels like the program has regressed a bit. And that’s not a good sign.
There are plenty of red flags right now that can’t be ignored with Pruitt (losses to Georgia State and BYU, an unusual amount of coaching staff change, the recent firing of defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh, etc).
But there are some good signs, too.
One of those good signs is the fact that Pruitt isn’t panicking right now and simply throwing young players onto the field to appease fans.
Look, I was one of the folks who didn’t understand why true freshman Harrison Bailey wasn’t getting reps during the Alabama game once it was out of reach. Pruitt has spent a lot of time talking about missed practice reps during the spring and fall, so why not give his young guys a chance to get some reps against Alabama?
According to Pruitt, that’s just not how he wants to build a program.
“I don’t think it’s the right way to build a program, because the players know who’s earned the opportunity to play on Saturdays,” said Pruitt on Saturday when asked about playing young players late in a game.
“They know that. There are no secrets in this game. You can see it. We watch film every day. They know who plays hard. They know who makes mistakes. Just because a guy is bigger, stronger or faster, if he’s not done the right stuff through the week, then I think you’re sending the wrong message to the people within your program, when you’re trying to build a program. It’s part of earning it every week.”
I applaud Pruitt for sticking to his plan and not bending to the desires of the fans/media.
Does that mean his approach is right?
I have no idea. That’s yet to be determined.
But for now, I think Pruitt is making the right move and sending the right message by staying steady and consistent.
Maybe things will start turning around for the Vols in the coming weeks. Pruitt certainly thinks the gap is closing.
Or maybe things continue to head south. At this point, there’s really no way to know which way things will trend.
And so is the life of a Tennessee Vols fan.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications