Gary Danielson hasn’t always won Vol fans over with his analysis during and after games. But they’ll probably like hearing what he had to say about new head football coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Danielson, a long-time CBS Sports analyst and color commentator for SEC football, made an appearance on 102.5 The Game in Nashville on Thursday, and he spoke about Pruitt and his fit at Tennessee. Pruitt drew criticism from two former Georgia football players, former quarterback Aaron Murray and former linebacker David Pollack, about his ability to be a head coach and his actions while serving as defensive coordinator at Georgia. Murray questioned whether or not Pruitt had the personality to be a successful head coach.
But according to Danielson, Pruitt is exactly what Tennessee needs right now.
“I think he’s the perfect guy for what Tennessee needs,” Danielson said during the interview. “They were soft. Their practices were hard to watch. There was too much emphasis on tricking people.
“Phil Fulmer knew it. There was no accountability at being tough at the point of attack.”
Tennessee was criticized last season for playing a yard or two off the line of scrimmage when on defense, and the Vols’ offensive line was accused of just “catching” opposing defensive linemen at the point of attack. Many Vol fans and former players, most notably Albert Haynesworth, were extremely critical of this approach last year.
Danielson thinks Butch Jones and his staff were too focused on trying to fool opposing teams with schemes rather than simply getting the best players to play their best.
“It was all, ‘How do we trick them?’ That’s a very dangerous thing for a football team,” Danielson added. “‘Coach, find me a blitz or a play where we can trick the other team, for success for us.’
“Beat your guy, man.”
All those tricks and schemes led to Tennessee finishing with their first eight-loss season and first winless SEC season in school history. That’s the hole that Pruitt and his staff have to climb out of. But Danielson thinks Pruitt is just the man to help pull the Vols out of the pit they’ve fallen into.
“I didn’t see that accountability at Tennessee,” Danielson said. “And I think that Jeremy is the perfect guy for it. And I’ve heard the criticism. Too bad. They’re soft. They need to get tougher.”
Vol fans will get a chance to see how much tougher Tennessee is under Pruitt than they were in 2017 when the Vols take on West Virginia in Charlotte on September 1st to start the season.