There are a plethora of differences between recently hired Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his predecessor Butch Jones.
But there is one key difference between the two coaches that I think will bode well for the Vols in 2018.
When Jones was Tennessee’s head coach, he didn’t believe in the concept of “gamers”. He believed how you practiced is how you would play. While there’s definitely some truth to his logic, his theory doesn’t always ring true.
Former Vols quarterback Josh Dobbs, for example, was a gamer. Dobbs didn’t always have the best practices. Prior to his transfer, Nathan Peterman was often a practice star. But Dobbs is the one that came up big under the bright lights.
Jones constantly refused to play players that didn’t practice to his standard. He never even gave them a chance in a game to see what they could do, regardless of their irrefutable talent.
Pruitt, however, doesn’t cling to the same ill-advised logic that Jones did.
Appearing on the Paul Finebaum show on Monday, Pruitt alluded to the fact that he wants to see what players do in a game-like situation, saying “You find guys that do well in drills, you find guys that do well in 11-on-11, then you find guys that when you get in the stadium and scrimmage they really show up. And then you find guys that disappear.’
Pruitt expounded on that thought on Tuesday after Tennessee’s practice.
Pruitt says they want the Orange & White Game to be more like a game so he can see which players can handle the anxiety of a game day and perform in a game-like setting
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) March 27, 2018
Look, I get that players need to practice well. And you can’t just cruise through practices, either. Players need to give 100 percent effort at all times.
But there are absolutely players that perform better when there pressure of a game is present. It’s kind of like a closer in baseball. When a closer comes into the game in non-save situations, they almost always give up a hit or a run. It’s a completely different mentality.
The same goes for football practices and games. It can be hard to get in the same mindset for an afternoon practice as it is for an early September night game.
Fortunately for the Vols, Pruitt recognizes this and I think it will be a huge plus for Tennessee in 2018.
Featured image via Times Free Press/USA Today