Jeremy Pruitt finished up his first season as Tennessee’s head coach, and while the ending was far from what Vol fans were hoping for, there were still some high points and progress in Pruitt’s maiden voyage.
Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports graded every first-year head coach’s performance at their new schools in the 2018 season, and he gave Tennessee’s Jeremy Pruitt a C+ for his 5-7 record his team earned this past season.
“There were bright moments, like the win at Auburn, and awful ones like losing to Missouri and Vanderbilt to close out the season,” Sallee writes. “Baby steps and patience, Vols fans.”
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The Vols showed improvement in a lot of areas this past season, but it wasn’t enough to get them to a bowl game. And the season ended disastrously with back-to-back blowout losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt, and the loss to the Commodores kept the Vols from getting to a bowl game. That loss also marked the third straight time Vanderbilt has beaten Tennessee and the fifth time they’ve beaten them in the last seven years.
But it wasn’t all bad for Tennessee this season. The Vols did go on the road and upset a then-ranked Auburn squad, 30-24, and they defeated a ranked Kentucky team 24-7 in Neyland Stadium before losing the last two games of the year.
There was progress, but there were also setbacks. Thus Pruitt earning a C+ as his grade.
Pruitt was one of 20 first-year head coaches who Sallee graded, and 10 of the other 19 coaches received a higher grade than Pruitt. Only Chad Morris (D-) received a lower grade among the other four first-year coaches in the SEC according to Sallee. Florida’s Dan Mullen earned an A, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher got an A-, and Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead received a B+.
The only coach that got a higher grade than Mullen in Sallee’s grade book was UCF’s Josh Heupel, who received an A+ for leading the Golden Knights to an undefeated season. Florida State’s Willie Taggart received the lowest grade and the only F in the group of new coaches. The Seminoles went 5-7 under Taggart and ended their 36-year bowl game streak in the process.