State of the UT program after four games

State of the UT program after four games

Football

State of the UT program after four games

KNOXVILLE — Against Florida, the Tennessee program suffered its 19th 25-point, or more, loss since the 2009 season.

Now the Vols are traveling to Georgia as a 32.5-point underdog.

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

It will take time for Jeremy Pruitt to turn the program around in a much bigger rebuilding job than Derek Dooley and Butch Jones inherited in their first season this decade. Pruitt is taking on a task that includes changing the culture, a culture that did not include player accountability before his arrival.

Former Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason went in detail on the Vols Wire podcast about it taking time in a true rebuild for Pruitt. Mason says the Vols have the right guy in Pruitt as head coach.

First and foremost, Pruitt needs players to take on the role as leaders this season.

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Eli Wolf mentioned leaders needing to step up at SEC Media Days.

Pruitt echoed his tight end’s comments on his weekly radio show Vol Calls ahead of the UTEP game. When asked who the leader of his team is, Pruitt replied “I would say me.”

Throughout the first four games, Jauan Jennings and Jeremy Banks are visible not only performing on the field, but are also vocal.

At this point in the season, Banks, Jennings and Wolf are guys that the rest of the team need to rally behind as they understand leadership roles.

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Defensively there is not a presence at the outside backer position, which is hampering the scheme and other units. Jonathan Kongbo and Darrell Taylor have not provided a needed spark on the outside, an area that proves it will take time to build the program that fits what Pruitt wants to do schematically, and the answer will come on the recruiting trail.

The first road test against Georgia could be what the team needs to help turnaround players’ mindsets within the program going forward. This team needs to learn and realize their ability, the fight in them and relying on each other as a team while on the road in the SEC.

A bowl game seems far from reaching at this point, but continuity and giving effort on the road could be what is needed for this Tennessee team to play together and become a gateway in buying in and fully understanding what Pruitt and his coaching staff are trying to accomplish at UT.

Photo by Dan Harralson, Vols Wire

Quarterback play needs to get better in getting the ball in the hands of the two best units on the team, running backs and wide receivers, and not necessarily strictly related to the passing game.

Marquez Callaway and Jennings are go-to targets in the passing game and Ty Chandler and Banks are becoming forces in the backfield. Jarrett Guarantano needs to be more fluid under center in rushing plays. Keller Chryst has proven during his playing time that he is more fluid with his footwork in saving running backs an extra second by having the hand-off in the right place at the right time, creating better running lanes behind the offensive line.

Below is this week’s podcast with Trey Wallace of Fox Sports Knoxville discussing the state of Tennessee’s football program.

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