Jeremy Pruitt admits he made a critical clock error in his first game as a head coach
Jeremy Pruitt inherited a young Tennessee football team that will learn by trial and error to some extent this season. That’s something even he can relate to on some level.
Despite all his experience coaching on the sideline, Pruitt has never been a head coach at any level. That has been a talking point for Tennessee fans all offseason, and while some have been quick to dismiss that fact, Pruitt himself acknowledges he made a “critical mistake” on Saturday against West Virginia.
To set up how he got to that admission, here’s what Tennessee’s first-year coach had to say during his Monday press conference when asked how the game may have been different for him as a first-time head coach.
“I’ll tell you, it’s a little bit different,” Pruitt admitted. “I have to do a better job of where I can contribute on both sides of the ball. There’s lots of lessons I can take from this game.”
More specifically, Pruitt realized after reviewing the film from the West Virginia game that he needs to have a firmer grip on what the offense is doing and the situation in the game. As an admitted defensive-minded coach, Pruitt knows he needs to divide his attention equally on game days.
“I’m a defensive-minded guy so when you are sitting there watching the offense, I need to know exactly what I can do to help give probably some influence to the offense, you know? I need to do a better job of that in the game,” Pruitt continued.
“I think one critical mistake myself in the game. When we punted the football when we had fourth and four with a minute and 58 seconds left, I should have let the clock run out, you know? I thought that was a critical mistake. Could have run the clock down to a minute 38 seconds, they end up getting a field goal there.”
The drive Pruitt is referencing took up all 1:52 remaining on the game clock when West Virginia’s offense got the ball back. The drive went 72 yards and ended in a 35-yard field goal by Mountaineer kicker Evan Staley. The result of the drive gave West Virginia a 13-7 lead and some momentum going into halftime.
It’s clear Pruitt’s roster has a ways to go before it’s at the championship caliber he expects, but even he’s willing to admit he’s in the same boat after his first game as a head coach.