Leading Tennessee to a bowl game next season would win Jeremy Pruitt some support in Knoxville but most Volunteer fans have that expectation for their football program regardless of the situation on Rocky Top.

Beating the Gators in Gainesville as an underdog, on the other hand, that’s how you win the support of the entire Vol Nation.

The Tennessee faithful showed up and had Neyland Stadium rocking for the program’s game against Florida last season. While the fans may have done their part that Saturday night, the team did the exact opposite and laid an egg on the field, which led to the Gators laughing their way out of Neyland with a 47-21 win. That win marked Florida’s 13th win in 14 contests against the Vols.

Entering his second training camp on Rocky Top, the summer heat and humidity of East Tennessee has been beating down on the Volunteers to open camp but when asked about the heat of fall practice, Pruitt appeared to send a clear message to any of his players considering using the heat as an excuse not to give all-out effort in practice.

“Well, it hadn’t really been that hot,” Pruitt said just before the team’s 2019 team photo was taken Sunday morning. “It don’t really get that hot in Knoxville. I’m sure it’s hot in Gainesville right now.”

The message being sent by Pruitt? The Gators practice in hotter temperature and must have worked harder in training camp last year and it showed on the field back on Sept. 22, 2018. There clearly remains a gap between Florida and Tennessee on the field that can only be made up by the strides made in training camp leading up to the upcoming season.

We won’t know how well this message was received until Tennessee travels down to Gainesville on Sept. 21 but give Pruitt some credit for putting his team on notice that heat will not be used as an excuse for lack of performance this training camp.

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Tennessee sportsbooks are live in the Volunteer state since November 1, 2020. Tennessee was the first SEC state to legalize sports betting.