This isn’t how the Jeremy Pruitt era was supposed to start on Rocky Top.
While Tennessee was a big underdog (the Vols were a 10.5-point underdog) heading into the opener against West Virginia in Charlotte, some were coming around and making the Volunteers a popular upset pick. Kirk Herbstreit was among those picking Tennessee to start the Pruitt era off with a win.
Of course, those hopes were premature, as the Mountaineers proved to be too explosive on offense for Tennessee to keep up with for 60 minutes. The Vols did have some momentum heading into halftime but an hour delay — due to lightning in the area — seemed to suck the air out of Pruitt’s roster. In the end, West Virginia starts the season at 1-0 after beating the Vols 40-14.
Following the game, Pruitt said the loss belongs on his shoulders.
“The most important thing to me is how your team plays, because how your team plays tells you what kind of coach you are,” Pruitt said during his postgame press conference. “Their team played better than our team did today. That’s on me. I need to get these guys to where they execute on a higher level, where they believe in their self. And I think we’ll do that.”
Pruitt’s team didn’t come away with the result they had in mind but according to their coach, learning from this disappointment could be an important step to improving the program.
“That’s the great thing about playing these games. It’s great for college football, it’s great for our program and it makes you better, makes you better,” he said. “There’s lots of lessons to be learned today, the key is we have to learn the lesson and go apply it.
“West Virginia had a fantastic plan and they played the entire game, they played 60 minutes. We played 30.”
Video of the segment can be viewed below, which was shared to Twitter by Marshall Hughes of WATE-ABC in Knoxville:
— Marshall Hughes (@marshallhughes) September 2, 2018