Jeremy Pruitt’s M.O. during his first spring as a head coach has been to give as little information as possible about individual players on his team while still sharing his overall thoughts on specific units and his team as whole. And that trend continued on Saturday afternoon.
The Vols went through their first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, and it took place in Neyland Stadium. The scrimmage was closed off to the media, but Pruitt gave his analysis of Tennessee’s first scrimmage under his watch. When he was asked about any positives he took away from the day, he had only one reply.
“That we got to go outside,” Pruitt replied to reporters after practice on Saturday.
He would go on to detail the fact that the weather wasn’t the best, but he was glad his team was able to be out in Neyland Stadium and go through a scrimmage. But what about the actual play of his team? Though he once again didn’t offer up any thoughts on specific players, Pruitt still had plenty to say about his team’s performance.
“We gotta be a much better tackling team,” Pruitt stated. “The offensive line needs to learn how to finish. I didn’t see offensive players peppering defensive players and knocking them off the ball carrier.”
Pruitt would go on to state that one good thing was that the offense didn’t have a lot of turnovers, but he also pointed out that a lack of turnovers by the offense also means the defense wasn’t forcing many. Pruitt said the Vols’ defense “needs to be opportunistic” moving forward.
One problem that plagued both teams was penalties.
Pruitt stated that both sides of the ball struggled with too many penalties, and the issue only grew as the scrimmage went on. He said the number of penalties was low to start, but the mistakes piled up more near the end of the scrimmage.
But it wasn’t just poor tackling and penalties that caught Pruitt’s attention. He also didn’t like the body language players showed during adverse situations.
Though he didn’t single out any specific players or units, Pruitt said that body language was something that this team needs to improve before the season. He said he could tell the outcome of a play without even watching it just by looking at his players’ reactions on the sidelines and on the field.
Tackling, penalties, and body language. Those are all problems the 2017 Vols had, and it seems those issues have followed the team into the spring of this year. At least through the first scrimmage of the spring, anyway. And Jeremy Pruitt and his staff will do their best to address those concerns and try and get them fixed before the 2018 season begins.