The Tennessee Vols played like a team with a lot of inexperience and a brand new head coach in their season-opening loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers.
That was to be expected, but it was still unnerving for fans of the Vols.
For the most part, fans and analysts know it’s going to take a while for Tennessee to work its way back to the top of the SEC.
But how long will it take? And how much improvement will we see this season?
Based on how the Vols played against West Virginia, it would’ve been reasonable to expect Tennessee to win only three games this season.
That would be a foolish expectation, though. Jeremy Pruitt is a good coach. And his team is going to get a lot better as the season progresses.
Just look at true freshman defensive back Bryce Thompson. Pruitt said this week that Thompson might have played the worst of any of Tennessee’s cornerbacks against West Virginia.
But a week later, he was one of the bright spots in the Vols’ win against East Tennessee State.
Pruitt says Bryce Thompson should serve as a lesson to the rest of the team. He said Thompson might’ve played the worst of any of the corners in Week 1 but came back and practice hard and had a “much better” Week 2. He says practice is that important.
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) September 12, 2018
First off, that’s the perk of having a defensive back whiz as a head coach.
But most importantly, it shows that dramatic improvement is possible as long as players commit themselves to getting better.
Pruitt is still working to change the culture at Tennessee. It was evident in some of Pruitt’s post-practice comments on Wednesday that the culture in Knoxville is still not where it needs to be.
Pruitt says practice wasn’t what he would like it to be today. Says they need to practice better and leaders have to do a better job of confronting each other.
— WBIR Sports (@WBIRSports) September 12, 2018
Bryce Thompson is proof that significant improvement can happen in just a week. If players on the Vols’ roster continue to follow his lead, and if the culture continues to change, we’ll see a much different Tennessee team by October/November.
Featured image via The State