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Pruitt Wanted Vols to “See Who They Represent” Before Game

Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

Before Tennessee took on Missouri on Saturday, the Vols’ players and coaches went through the traditional Vol Walk heading into the stadium. Only this time, things didn’t go as they normally do.

Head coach Jeremy Pruitt stopped his players in the middle of the pre-game Vol Walk and gave his team a passionate speech. He implored his team to look around at the fans gathered around them and tried to motivate them before the game.

After the game, Pruitt was asked about that moment, and he explained why he spoke to his team in that situation.

“I just wanted them to see who they represent,” Pruitt responded. “The people that come and support this university, that have pride in the Tennessee football program and the university itself. That it’s bigger than these guys. We win one football game, or we win two games in a row, I wanted to make sure that they looked around.

“It’s a pretty huge sight to see, all these people with orange on, standing out there to watch these guys walk. I just wanted to make sure they understand who they represent.”

Pruitt hoped that his pre-game speech in front of hundreds of Vol fans would help motivate his team and get them to understand the importance of Saturday’s match-up. But unfortunately for Pruitt and the Vols, that didn’t end up happening.

Tennessee’s offense stumbled out to earn -17 yards in the first quarter, and after taking a brief 7-6 lead in the second quarter, the Vols would be outscored 44-10 for the remainder of the game.

Pruitt’s message to his team in the pre-game speech was that Saturday’s game was bigger than them and bigger than him. But the results weren’t what he was hoping for.

“It’s not about them. It’s not about me,” Pruitt continued. “But, we need to make sure we leave it better than we found it. I just wanted them to see it and understand it.

“It didn’t work. But I wanted them to see it and understand it.”

For the second time this season, Tennessee allowed 50 points to an opponent in Neyland Stadium. The Vols were routed 58-21 by Alabama earlier this season in Knoxville, and it marked the second straight year that Missouri defeated the Vols by a score of 50-17.

Tennessee will the end the regular season and look for bowl eligibility when they play Vanderbilt next Saturday in Nashville.

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