Vols' on-field season-opening result will lead to off-field success

Vols' on-field season-opening result will lead to off-field success

Football

Vols' on-field season-opening result will lead to off-field success

CHARLOTTE — Following Tennessee’s 40-14 loss to No. 17 West Virginia in Charlotte, there is a realization and understanding of how the season-opening defeat will better the UT program in recruiting.

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I was like ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit before the game picking the Vols to win.

We were wrong with the on-field result, but off-the-field Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee program won and will show on National Signing Day.

Pruitt needs his players to fit his scheme and to create depth of players that fit that mold, coming in that only know his standard and expectations. The loss to West Virginia is that selling point of need on the recruiting trail.

Seeing West Virginia players during pregame warmups, I knew then I made a mistake picking Tennessee to win. The eye test of the Mountaineers showed they had more bigger and stronger players than Tennessee – something that Pruitt is addressing on the recruiting trail and will continue to have guys commit within the season.

The culture has changed at UT under Pruitt in eight months and the 2018 season is not lost after one game. Pruitt said following the loss that his team will be better as the season goes on.

“I know in October they’re going to be a lot better,” Pruitt said of his team following the game. “So they have to learn from it, they’ve got to grow up and I think they will because they’re made the right way. So I’ve got to do a better job of coaching them too, you know? I put them in a couple of bad spots and that’s my fault. I’ll help them out a little bit more the next time.”

Not having player personnel on the field in providing enough defensive pressure and having the offensive ability to extend the field, were areas missing and needed to compete with West Virginia – both can also be addressed in being more accustomed with player personnel as the season continues.

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