Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt met with the media on Thursday afternoon to discuss the latest practice, team activities, and the scrimmage they kinda had.
Tennessee practiced inside Neyland Stadium on Wednesday night. They focused on making it as close to a scrimmage as possible. Pruitt mentioned the Vols were still down a few more players.
““We went back to Neyland last night and had somewhat of a scrimmage, got to get in probably somewhere around 40 to 44 plays in situational football. It was good to do. It was pretty sloppy, to be honest. Lots of penalties, especially on the offensive side – false starts, which just goes back to team take off, not having some guys in there being consistent with cadence. Offensively, we put the ball on the ground a few times. Defensively, again the things that you think would show up when you’ve not had a chance to go live in a very long time is missed tackles.”
With a few players returning to the field last night, Pruitt still made it a point to say, “Well we’ve had so many guys out, I can’t keep up with who’s available and who’s not available. And it changes by the day. So, to be specific on names, my days have really run together when it comes to that, so I probably wouldn’t be much good.”
Pruitt is still unhappy about the play of the defensive line.
“There were a couple of guys that showed improvement to me. Prime (Kurott) Garland I thought had his best practice. Ja’Quain Blakely continues to work hard. He’d been out a few days but he’s back. We’re taking baby steps up there, and we’ve got to continue to do that. The next several practices are really big practices for those guys. We need to get out of the baby steps and probably start taking some leaps.”
When speaking about the contact tracing that has occurred on campus, Pruitt added, “Our contact tracing has mainly been roommates. I think in some states it is six feet without a mask for 15 minutes, but here in Knoxville where we’ve got the biggest hurdle is actual roommates, whether they live there or not all the time.”
With the offensive line group taking a hit recently, keeping Covid away from others is the main concern as the season draws near.
“I’m no expert when it comes to that. I do believe the contact tracing is different from state-to-state.”
Jeremy Pruitt was asked about the allotted practices allowed by the NCAA for Fall camp.
“We definitely probably will not reach 25 practices. I think it’s important that we’re efficient with our practice time. From a number’s standpoint, I’m not sure that we’re ready to go fall camp, back-to-back-to-back days. That probably would do more harm than good. We want to make sure we’re efficient so we can keep guys healthy and continue to improve as a football team.”
Pruitt did have a little fun during the zoom session when asked about who would take over if he came down with Covid.
“Tee (Martin) is the assistant head coach. Jim Chaney, I think he’s the winningest head coach in the history of Tennessee football at 1-0 so I know he would not want that. He is going to take that mark with him for the rest of his life so he would absolutely be out. Obviously, it would be Tee.”
The subject of Cade Mays was brought up during the zoom session. Pruitt was asked if he has spoken with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “I haven’t specifically talked to Greg (Sankey) about Cade Mays. But, with what’s going on in our country with the pandemic. There is probably not one family in the country who hasn’t suffered in some form.”
Pruitt also added, “So, with that, everybody that’s playing NCAA football this year, their eligibility doesn’t count, so everybody on our team can come back and play another year. A senior can be a senior again, a freshman can be a freshman again. This is not just about Cade (Mays). I would say everybody that tried to transfer, to me, it would be foolish for anybody that’s capable of enabling this, it would be foolish of us not to do that just for what’s right.”
You can tell that Pruitt is a bit peeved about the situation and has not hunkered down when asked about the situation.
The Vols will be back on the practice field Friday afternoon.
Stay tuned to Fox Sports Knoxville for coverage of Fall Camp 2020
All video courtesy of Tennessee Athletic Communications