One of the biggest mistakes I made during the Butch Jones era at Tennessee was ignoring obvious red flags.

The comments Jones often made during the week, the lack of development on Saturdays, and the puzzling in-game decisions. They were all red flags that I (and many others) tried to excuse.

I’m not making that same mistake with current Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

If it looks like a red flag, then it’s a red flag. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a red flag tells us that Pruitt can’t be a successful head coach at Tennessee. But I think they’re worth keeping up with. Because if enough red flags pop up, it will eventually be time for a change.

Pruitt’s had a couple of red flags so far at Tennessee. Losing to Georgia State and BYU. The insane amount of coaching turnover. Numerous blowout losses. Lack of quarterback development. And, of course, the home loss to Kentucky.

Tennessee Vols

After Monday’s press conference, we can add another one to the list.

During Pruitt’s opening statement on Monday, he made a comment that immediately struck me as concerning.

“I feel like the guys have really kind of bought in trying to execute at a higher level,” said Pruitt (who was talking about the defense).

Players having to “buy-in” to executing at a higher level in the middle of season three isn’t a good thing. That’s on the year one to-do list.

There’s no doubt that Tennessee hasn’t played well defensively this season. The tackling has been poor. And the middle of the field has been wide open for teams to pick apart the Vols.

Pruitt is considered by most folks to be a “defensive guru”, so the fact that he’s still getting players to “buy-in” to executing at a higher level is a bit concerning.

Why is this still a thing in Pruitt’s third year?

Pruitt is still working to create a standard at Tennessee. And until the players play to that standard, the Vols won’t be successful.

It’s Pruitt’s job to get them to play to that standard. So far, he hasn’t been successful. And that’s a major red flag.

Featured image via Knoxville News-Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK
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