Tennessee’s team is beginning to take on the personality of its coach.

Despite Tennessee’s 1-4 record on the season, that’s something Jeremy Pruitt really seems to appreciate heading into the Mississippi State contest. All coaches are ultimately judged by their win-loss record and while the current state of progress in Knoxville isn’t showing up in the standings, incremental progress is being shown on and off the field — if you know where to look for it.

During his Monday press conference, Pruitt was asked about a sideline exchange that occurred during the Georgia game. The Tennessee coach was asked about it with the question phrased around the involvement of offensive line coach Will Friend in the exchange.

According to Pruitt, Friend was not involved in the exchange but he also noted that he actually appreciated the fact his players were showing some emotion in the game.

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“No, I don’t think it was Will Friend, I think it was some of our players. I didn’t see it either, so I got told about it,” Pruitt replied. “I got told about it, I was fired up. I’m glad we got some passion around here. People want to do things the right way. We need a few more of those if you ask me.”

Additionally, Pruitt was later asked about the penalties his young offensive line continues to get called for in recent games. If you missed it, Tennessee’s linemen have been flagged for blocking downfield after the conclusion of a play, a peel-back block that was initially ruled targeting and one instance of blocking a defender all the way out of bounds and sustaining the block outside the field of play.

While Pruitt isn’t exactly happy to see his linemen draw flags, he can at least appreciate the fact his linemen now appear to have an edge to them. That’s not something that could have been said when he first arrived on campus.

“I am excited to see we got guys up front that are trying to finish people and put people into the ground. That’s a long way from where we first started 22 months ago – we couldn’t find five offensive linemen to go practice,” Pruitt concluded. “So now we are starting to have to slow them down, that’s a good thing. We got to get some disciple to understand not to make some mistakes.”

All of these actions may not add up to much individually, but combined, they begin to clear a picture of some nastiness that Tennessee now possesses under Pruitt’s leadership. If they can keep it up, these actions are bound to pay off on the field and finally result in some victories on Rocky Top.