What Jeremy Pruitt said after Tennessee lost to Auburn
The Tennessee Volunteers lost another frustrating game Saturday night, this time to the Auburn Tigers 30-17.
The Vols have now lost 5 games in a row, and fans are growing impatient with Pruitt and the Vols.
Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano struggled again completing just 15-of-23 passes for 156 yards and a pick-six. The running game behind Eric Gray and the offensive line was cooking. The Vols rushed for 222 yards against Auburn’s defense.
Following the loss to Auburn, Jeremy Pruitt spoke to the media. Below is everything he said:
“Well first off, I really thought our team played extremely hard tonight. We didn’t always play clean, but I thought the kids played extremely hard. You look, we missed a couple field goals. We had at least a 10-point swing (on the interception) going down in the red area there in the third quarter. Struggled to get off the field on third down at times. Early in the game missed some tackles. When you look at that, it all adds up. Had a blown coverage one time, for the first score. Guys played hard. But we just made some mistakes. That’s on me as a coach. We got to do a better job getting them prepared so they don’t make those mistakes. I was really pleased with our guys’ effort. Offensively I thought we moved the ball really well, really in both halves. But we have to come away with touchdowns when we get down there.”
Harrison Bailey time?
“I think you have to evaluate everybody in our program. Our goal is to win every game. Every week we play the guys that give us the best opportunity. So we’ll continue to do that. We had to see how each guy played in this game and figure out, moving forward, what’s the best option.”
Does Jarrett Guarantano give the team the best chance to win?
“Absolutely. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t play him. I mean, guys, he didn’t miss two field goals. He didn’t blow a coverage. There’s lots of things. Did he make a mistake? He made a mistake. Absolutely. I made mistakes in the game. Ok? So the bottom line is, guys, we all have to execute a little bit better to be productive, so we can score more points on Saturday than the other team does.”
On the offensive game plan
“I thought we had a few guys that got involved in the game plan that hadn’t had an opportunity this year. And they’ll continue to improve as we go.”
On getting beat in the second half the last few weeks
“Well, I’m going to talk about this game because this is the one that just happened. In the second quarter, we had a busted coverage and they threw a touchdown. In the third quarter there, we put a good drive together. We turned the ball over and they ran it back 100 yards for a touchdown. So that’s a 10-point swing. And we missed two field goals. We didn’t get off the field on third down like we’d like to. Couple of them, I made bad calls. So there’s lots of things that go around. I thought our kids played extremely hard. (Auburn has) a good football team and they beat us today.”
Message to fans questioning the direction of the program
“That ain’t my job, guys. My job is to coach. If you want to ask me a football question, ask me a football question.”
Trust level with OC Jim Chaney
“I don’t know, did you watch the game? We had more yards than they did. So I don’t know if there was inconsistency or not there.”
On Eric Gray
“I thought our offensive line blocked well. Really, we moved the ball pretty well from 30 to 30. We didn’t come away with points three times. That was a big part of the game. Then just getting off the field on third down defensively.”
On the running game
“I thought we ran the ball well. I thought we blocked them well. There were a lot of holes there. I thought we kind of established the run game a little bit there. So it was good to see.”
On opposing defenses returning turnovers for touchdowns
“Number one, we’ve got to be cleaner on our route (on the interception). Two, the ball should be out now. And when we’re not clean on a route, we should just throw the ball away, and we didn’t do that. The end result was what you saw. There are two parts to that. They played the way they played. Because we were running the football, heck, there were a couple times they played blitz coverage. They did a nice job, made a throw down there to the end zone, we just didn’t come up with a catch. You’ve got to be aggressive if they’re going to play that way, right? You have to be clean, run the routes the right way. If it’s not that way, then you just throw the ball away and play the next down.”
On kicker Brent Cimaglia’s health
“Brent has been going through this really since we got back, I’m talking about all the way back in June. When he came back, he had a little bit of an issue and he’s tried to work through it. I mean, it’s very unusual for him to miss some kicks. He felt like he hit one of them really good. But hey, Cimaglia is a great kicker and he’ll make a lot of kicks for us down the road.”
On what improvement he’s seen in recent weeks
“I felt like we improved a lot offensively tonight. Talk about production, we were better on third down. Ran the ball pretty well. Created some explosive plays. So that was good to see. I felt like we’ve been pretty consistent all year on special teams. Tonight we missed a couple kicks and had one really good kickoff return and one that we probably should’ve fair caught. But it’s like I told the guys after the game, I love their effort. I love the way they competed. They played together, played for each other. But, the but in here is we’ve got to be cleaner. We’ve got to execute better. And we’ve got to finish.”
Why didn’t QB Brian Maurer travel?
“Brian had a really good week playing (in practice). He played scout team this week. I actually texted him before the game. I said if we win this game, it’s because of the look you gave us this week. I thought he done a phenomenal job. We just decided to take three quarterbacks this week based off some injuries on our team.”
On spacing in the passing game
“I felt like we had a good plan going in. I felt like our offensive staff put together a good package there, that we felt like we could execute. We did throw the ball a lot early in the game, then we kind of got in rhythm running the ball there. We did offensively what we wanted to do. Except we didn’t come away with points three times. It’s pretty simple. We were efficient on offense. We ran the ball. We were better on third down. But we’ve got to finish drives.”
On his message to the team after the loss
“The same message I just gave y’all. Love their effort, love their toughness, love the way they played together, played for each other. But when we go back and watch the film, we all — me, most of all — made some mistakes and we’ve go to fix them. I know they’re frustrated. These guys have competed hard and played hard. (We’re) playing a good league with good players. You’ve got to play clean football to come out on top in this league.”