If there’s one thing Vol fans have learned about their first-time head coach this season, it’s that he’s not afraid to show his emotions. And that was on full display on Saturday after the Vols’ 38-12 loss to No. 2 Georgia in Athens.
Pruitt spoke to the media following the game on Saturday night, and he got emotional when asked what he learned about his team during the game. Pruitt fought back some tears while praising his team’s effort in the loss.
“That we got fight in us. That we’re not going to quit,” Pruitt answered when asked what he learned about the Vols. “Kinda gets me excited. These guys on this team have had a lot of negatives go towards them for a long time. I’m proud of them and the way they fought. They started last week, and it ain’t easy. Let me tell you something, that team in red today tried to change the way we thought. That’s the way they’re coached, that’s the way they play. They play the right way.
“Our guys kept fighting, which means we’re headed in the right direction. And that excites me. It’s why I’m getting a little bit emotional.”
Tennessee fell behind 17-0 in the first half and faced a 24-0 deficit over halfway into the third quarter. But they got on the board with a deep touchdown pass from Jarrett Guarantano to Josh Palmer, and they followed that up with another touchdown on an impressive score by Ty Chandler.
A 24-0 game was suddenly 24-12 after Tennessee elected to go for two on both their touchdowns and failed to convert. And a team that could easily have given up facing almost a four-score deficit against the No. 2 team in the nation didn’t quit.
Ultimately, the Vols couldn’t find a way to pull closer, and Georgia had a back-breaking seven and a half minute scoring drive in the fourth quarter to ice the game. But even after a start that saw the Vols force a fumble on a sack that somehow resulted in Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta picking it up and returning it 31 yards for a score, the Vols didn’t give up.
Tennessee overcame yet another slow start to make their contest against Georgia a game late in the second half. The Vols managed just 68 yards of offense in the first half, and 17 of those yards came on Tennessee’s first play of the game on a Ty Chandler run. The Vols were held without a point on the board till there were almost 10 minutes gone in the third quarter.
But even after a lot of the breaks didn’t go their way and even after Georgia was dominating the time of possession, the Vols didn’t quit. And Pruitt is excited about seeing that.