Well, at least Tennessee covered!

To the surprise of literally nobody, the 2nd-ranked Georgia Bulldogs handled the Vols, 38-12. Since the infamous Hail Mary game in 2016 (which feels like an eternity ago), Tennessee is 2-13 in conference play, which includes an 11-game SEC losing streak.

Nobody on God’s green Earth thought the Vols stood a chance on Saturday, but at least Tennessee didn’t get embarrassed on the field. The defensive line applied pressure on several occasions, resulting in two strip sacks.

Of course, Georgia recovered both fumbles, and in a stunning turn of events, scooped one up and scored an improbable touchdown:

The offense wasn’t as effective as it needed to be, but after turning the ball over six times against Florida last week, the Vols lone turnover against the Bulldogs was an inconsequential Jeremy Banks fumble when the game was out of reach.

Considering they faced a superior opponent, Tennessee was impressive against an elite opponent. However, what Saturday ultimately proved is that while the Vols have a long way to go talentwise, their head coach has a long way to go in terms of decision making.

It isn’t the end of the world for Jeremy Pruitt. He’s spent countless years learning under the nation’s premier head coaches. During the postgame press conference, it was apparent he genuinely cares about this program and this particular team.

Having said that, Pruitt needs to be better moving forward.

Tennessee’s misfortunes began when its punting unit (the best unit on the team) recorded three formation penalties in the first half. On one occasion, the Vols committed the same penalty on back-to-back punts. As a result, a Georgia drive that would’ve started deep in its own territory began at the 30-yard line.

Then, when Tennessee finally scored, Pruitt opted to go for two. This made no sense considering the likelihood of scoring three touchdowns and converting three two-point attempts is extremely low.

Finally, Pruitt must fix the offense’s rushing distribution. There’s no reason why Jeremy Banks (who can’t hold onto a football) should have more carries than Tim Jordan. After all, look at what Chandler can do with the ball in his hand:

No decision Pruitt made would’ve altered the result. Georgia was always going to beat Tennessee, no matter how hard the Vols tried.

But in games where the outcome is never in doubt, it’s up to the losing side to continue its development of good habits. Botching formations, going for ill-advised two-point attempts, and failing to give your most dynamic offensive player enough touches aren’t good habits. Pruitt is ultimately responsible for each one of these transgressions.

Still, the Vols do deserve credit for improving their play over the course of one week. The odds were stacked against them, and despite facing a massive gap in talent, Pruitt clearly had his team better prepared.

Featured image courtesy of USA Today Sports

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