Jeremy Pruitt outlines what he wants to see from his Tennessee team in first training camp scrimmage
Tennessee is set to hit the practice field for the first scrimmage of training camp on Sunday, and thanks to Jeremy Pruitt, we know exactly what the team’s coaching staff wants to see from its team when they hit the field.
For the second-year head coach, it all starts up front with the team’s offensive line. Getting those players in rhythm and on the same page entering the season will be paramount to Tennessee’s success following last season’s season-long battle with performance and consistency on the line.
“To start with, offensively, you know, it starts up front,” Pruitt said of Sunday’s scrimmage. “We’re looking for guys that don’t make mental mistakes and don’t beat yourself – guys that know what they’re supposed to do. We’re going to keep the calls simple on both sides of the ball to give the guys a chance to have success playing with the right temperament, playing ‘til the whistle blows, being consistent. Things aren’t always going to go their way, so how do they handle adversity? Who can sustain? Who can finish?”
On his side of the ball, Pruitt wants to see which young defenders throw themselves into the action without much hesitation. Naturally, with so many first- and second-year players on that side of the ball, there will be a learning curve during camp but the coaching staff needs to accelerate that process in practice so that when the season arrives, these players are ready to go.
“Defensively, we have a lot of really young players. They need to be thrown out there and kinda turned loose and see what they’re going to do, because you don’t know what you got until to you go out there and do that,” Pruitt continued. “The way the rules are now you don’t get an opportunity to take them to the ground in a full-scale practice but a few times — this will be one of those times. It will be interesting, coaches aren’t out there with them. When things don’t go the right way, how’s the team going to respond? Is anyone going to have a positive impact on the folks around them?”
Finally, when it comes to the scrimmage, Pruitt is eager to know which players take the lessons learned and the momentum gained from the practice field to the scrimmage setting. Tennessee’s coach consistently harps on the importance of practice for his players and he continued on that theme during his most recent media availability.
“It’s always guys that have been really good up to this point, I’ve seen them disappear at the scrimmages, you know? I’ve seen guys that are really good drill players, may be okay during the team stuff in practice, but when they get to the stadium they disappear,” he said. “I’ve seen guys that have been good at both of them (drill and team exercises) that get to the stadium and disappear. I’ve never seen one that wasn’t good over here (at the practice field) that gets good over there (at the stadium). It’ll be interesting to see if the guys who’ve had really good camps so far, how they respond when they get to the stadium to get an opportunity to scrimmage.”
Cover photo comes via Tennessee Football