The Vols hit the practice field on Wednesday afternoon, looking to cut down on mistakes.
Tennessee got some help in the secondary with players to the field. If you’ve been listening to “The Drive” and following previous reports, you’ll know how much this helps with depth.
Tuesday’s practice was hard-hitting, like getting ran over by a TANK, which is always good after your FOURTH day of preparation for South Carolina. Pruitt was asked about their pass rush, with the loss of Darell Taylor, and where he thinks they are at inside linebacker, besides Henry To’oto’o.
“Well, at the linebackers, we’ll play Quavaris Crouch, Jeremy Banks, Aaron Beasley. I feel like those three guys have had really good Fall camps and continue to gain knowledge of the defense. As far as apass rush, I said this earlier today, there are lots of different ways to affect the quarterback. You can sack him, you can disguise, can get your hands up and bat balls, get him off the spot. We have a lot of unknowns there, so we’ll play a lot of guys at those positions because we feel like there are guys that have earned the right to play. Deandre Johnson and Kivon Bennett are obviously the guys that have the most experience. Hopefully, we can get those guys going and give us a chance to be productive at that position.”
Jeremy Pruitt was also asked about the tight end position, especially with Austin Pope still rehabbing. Pruitt mentioned that Princeton Fant, Jacob Warren, Sean Brown, and Jordan Allen would see playing time. But, Pruitt seemed to convey the message that the Vols will be without Pope for the entire year
“Austin Pope is not going to be ready to play and probably won’t play this year, he’s still rehabbing, and we’ll see where that goes beyond this year.”
The defensive line was a key question for Pruitt during the night, as one caller asked if there was anyone new that Tennessee fans could look out for in regards to production.
“Well, all the guys are really back. We added Omari Thomas and Dominic Bailey, that’s really the two new guys, and those guys, they’ll both play this year. We have a lot of experience back, with LaTrell Bumphus, Matthew Butler,
Kurott Garland, Darel Middleton, Greg Emerson, Aubrey Solomon. All those guys played an important role for us, and they will this year as well.”
The backup QB position is a spot that continues getting a lot of eyes, especially with the lack of work some of them got in Fall camp.
“I think all of those guys are really close. You know Harrison and Brian both missed a lot of practice time. Harrison missed the first four days, and Brian had a hamstring injury during camp. You know, we really only got 21 practices in, so when you talk about missing 4 or 5 of those, your opportunities go down. As we had 40 to 50 guys out for probably and 8 to 10 practice stretch there, we didn’t get a chance to do a lot of 2 spot and the one position that really suffered from it was the quarterback position.”
Pruitt continued on the backup spot, “Just being able to get those guys reps; it was tough to do. We’ll probably wait and make a game time decision. Whoever the backup quarterback is this week might not be the same guy next week, because the circumstances have changed now in probably the last four practices. We’ve been almost at full strength, these guys have got more reps, and we’ll just play it by ear as the season goes.”
Tennessee will be relying on a rotation of guys up front on Saturday night to put pressure on South Carolina QB Collin Hill, so it would be a perfect time for someone to step up and take a spot. If not, the Vols will be giving Hill a lot of time to work out of the backfield, something they can’t afford to do.
Pruitt also discussed the eligibility of Cade Mays during his press conference this evening. The Vols have under 48 hours until they get on a plane, bound for Columbia.
— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) September 23, 2020
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All images courtesy of Tennessee Athletic Communications