The Tennessee Vols were at their lowest point in program history when Jeremy Pruitt took over as UT’s head football coach in late 2017.
Coming off the first eight loss season in program history, there was nowhere to go but up for Pruitt in 2018.
The Vols predictably struggled a bit in Pruitt’s first season as a head coach, but they showed some glimpses of promise. A road win against Auburn and a November win against one of the best Kentucky teams ever provided fans with hope moving forward.
Unfortunately for Tennessee, the season ended on a bit of a down note as the Volunteers dropped their final two games of the season (against Missouri and Vanderbilt) which meant no bowl game.
Expectations still aren’t very high for Tennessee heading into 2019, but don’t tell that to Pruitt.
The second year head coach feels much better about his team after 18 months on the job.
Pruitt better understands the nuances of being a head coach entering this season. He also understands his team a lot better. Last spring/fall a lot of time was spent moving players around and finding out where they could best help the team.
But this season, Pruitt has a better grasp on his personnel, which is something he mentioned on Birmingham’s WJOX on Wednesday.
Jeremy Pruitt on biggest difference in Year 2 with Tennessee on @WJOX945
“We know our team. Coming in, very few guys I was familiar with. When you don’t know people, you try them out… We know their strengths & weaknesses, there wasn’t a bunch of moving around (this spring)”
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) June 12, 2019
The consistency this spring, plus the continuity of the coaching staff, should pay major dividends for the Vols in 2019.
Are they going to win nine or ten games?
They might not win seven or eight. It’s impossible to know how the season will unfold.
But I think the Tennessee team that fans see in 2019 will look a lot different (better) than the team they saw in 2018.
There’s no substitute for experience. And Pruitt’s year one experience will help him be a much better head coach in year two.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports