Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt said several baffling things after UT’s loss to the Auburn Tigers on Saturday night.
Pruitt managed to sound like Derek Dooley and Butch Jones in the same press conference — two coaches that he definitely doesn’t want to imitate.
But while the Dooley/Jones-like comments were cringeworthy, they weren’t necessarily harmful to the team.
One thing that Pruitt said, however, does have the potential to be harmful. And the third-year head coach should immediately apologize to his team for the comment.
Pruitt has been incredibly defensive of redshirt senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano this season. Even though JG is clearly the reason the offense has struggled, Pruitt has still gone out of his way to make sure he isn’t too hard on Guarantano.
On Saturday night, Pruitt took things to a new level. When asked about the quarterback situation, Pruitt got snippy and pointed out that JG didn’t “blow a coverage” or “miss two field goals”.
Does Jarrett Guarantano give Tennessee the best chance to win: “Absolutely. If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t play him. He didn’t miss two field goals. He didn’t blow a coverage,” Pruitt said.
— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 22, 2020
Pruitt is right. JG didn’t do make any of those mistakes. And those plays were part of the reason that Tennessee lost to Auburn.
But the single biggest reason the Vols lost on Saturday night was because of the interception that JG threw near the end of the third quarter that was returned for a touchdown. That was when the game was lost for UT.
Tennessee was down 13-10 and about to score when Guarantano threw that interception. They had driven all the way down the field after starting on their own 25. And then Guaranatano hit the Auburn defensive back in stride and suddenly the Vols were down by 10.
That was the defining moment of the game. And JG deserves the criticism — especially if Pruitt is willing to criticize his secondary and his kicker.
Pruitt should apologize to his team for the comment. It’s not that I think Pruitt should publicly slam any player, but if he’s going to throw some of the team under the bus, I’m not sure why JG is always spared.
Of course, I wouldn’t count on an apology actually happening. For whatever reason, JG can do no wrong in Pruitt’s eyes.
Featured image via USA TODAY-John Reed/Tennessee Athletics