Jeremy Pruitt should be used to coaching against Auburn by now.
Tennessee’s head man has had to gameplan for the Tigers in every season since 2007 — even in 2013 when he was the defensive coordinator at Florida State, which beat Auburn in the final BCS national championship game. Every other year, he was a defensive assistant for either Alabama or Georgia, both of which play rivalry games against Auburn every season.
As Pruitt prepares to take his Volunteers (2-3, 0-2 SEC) to the Plains to face No. 21 Auburn (4-2, 1-2) on Saturday, he can draw on those past experiences against the Tigers. Pruitt fielded several questions about his familiarity with Auburn during his portion of Wednesday’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, and you can read his responses below:
On facing the SEC West and your familiarity against them, does that help?
- Well for Auburn, I’ve coached against them for a long time, but that goes both ways. …. Kevin Steele was instrumental in getting me hired at Alabama, I worked for Coach Saban for eight years … so I think it would help.
On the nine-game SEC schedule:
- Well, I’ve had an opportunity to coach on the Western and Eastern side. Every SEC venue is fantastic. None of the players on our team has played at Auburn. It’s a tough place to play. It’s unique to get a chance to do that, but it’s unfortunate that some of our guys don’t get to play at every SEC stadium, but I don’t know if you can ever get to that.
On Quart’e Sapp’s play and during the bye:
- Obviously, when guys are healthy, they will play better. … I think him, along with many guys here, got better during the bye week. He will continue to do that.
On inside linebacker depth:
- Our guys work hard at that position. Daniel (Bituli) and Darren (Kirkland) weren’t here in the spring. and Quart’e has been banged up. You need depth at every position in his league. As they improve, it will help.
On improvements defending the run, are you close to where you want to be?
- No. In our games, there’s too many times the pile moves the wrong way. … We give up too many explosive plays. We are moving in the right direction. … This week will challenge us. … They may not have been doing that lately, but (Auburn coach )Gus Malzahn and (offensive coordinator) Chip Lindsey have proven they can run on anyone in this league.
On Chip Lindsey and Gus Malzahn, and the scheme at Auburn:
- Gus is the head football coach, so everything in the program, he has a hand in. You do see some things that are different since Chip got there, but I think all coaches, as the game changes, we adapt. … All the years coaching versus Coach Malzahn, he finds new wrinkles. … They will be a challenge; they always have been.
On Mississippi State’s success running on Auburn:
- There aren’t many people that have done that several years. … They basically used their quarterback as a wildcat guy. That’s a tough offense to defend when you do that. … I had a tough time stopping that Mississippi State offense last year, and we had a pretty good team, let me tell you.