One of the main reasons the Tennessee Vols lost to the Georgia State Panthers in week one is because head coach Jeremy Pruitt didn’t prepare his team well enough to beat a program that won only two games last season.
Pruitt told reporters after the loss that Georgia State out-coached the Vols.
I think nearly everyone who watches college football would agree with that.
But to put the loss solely on Pruitt would be silly. Players have to be held accountable too. Tennessee should’ve been able to sleepwalk against Georgia State and still stumble to victory. But they didn’t. And while the coaching staff likely didn’t preach the importance of treating every opponent the same, that’s not something you’d think college athletes would need to be reminded of before stepping on the field in front of 90,000 fans.
The Vols now have to move forward from the disastrous loss. They have a tough test ahead of them in BYU — an opponent who is also 0-1 and won’t be feeling sorry for Tennessee.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) September 5, 2019
For now, for whatever reason, the Vols are favored against BYU. The expectation in Tennessee’s locker room is that UT will emerge victorious on Saturday night in Neyland Stadium.
If that happens, then what? What will we have learned about Tennessee football in 2019?
Well, I tend to think we’d actually learn a lot. And while the bitter taste of losing to Georgia State will likely remain forever, a win against BYU — especially a convincing win — should make UT fans feel a lot better about where Tennessee’s football program stands.
For starters, it’ll mean that Pruitt learned from his mistakes in week one. It’ll mean he properly prepared his team to win and play to their abilities. It will also probably mean Pruitt showed some fire this week behind the scenes. Pruitt’s demeanor has been a major topic of discussion all week. But it’s what happens behind closed doors that really matters.
Another reason a victory should make Vol fans feel better is because it will show that UT’s roster has a lot of resilient players on the team.
Look, we know based on Jordan Murphy’s departure that not everyone was all in in week one. And we also know based on Pruitt’s comments earlier this week that there are still some players on the roster not moving in the right direction.
But if the Vols are able to beat BYU, and they show some gritty effort while doing it, it’ll show us that the bulk of the roster is moving in the same direction as Pruitt and his staff.
I think nearly everyone who pays attention to Tennessee football misdiagnosed how long it’s going to take Pruitt to fix the mess that Butch Jones left behind.
That’s not to blame Jones for the loss to Georgia State, either. That’s a game that should’ve been won and there are zero excuses for the loss.
But Jones left Rocky Top in pretty bad shape. And there are a lot of “Butch players” who aren’t necessarily helping the team achieve its goals right now.
Pruitt is going to need a couple of years to stock a roster full of “Pruitt guys” before we can fully know his potential as a head coach.
However, even with Butch players on the roster, we still still need see Pruitt keep the ship afloat.
If Pruitt can keep the ship from sinking this year, which starts with a win at BYU, then he’ll have a good chance to find some longterm success in Knoxville.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports