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Everything Jeremy Pruitt said on the SEC Teleconference

Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt met with the SEC media during the SEC Teleconference on Wednesday just before noon.

Pruitt discussed the health of Jarrett Guarantano, the issues with offensive execution, Vols wide receiver Velus Jones, Auburn’s secondary, Tigers quarterback Bo Nix, and if seniors will have the opportunity to return for a second senior season.

Here’s everything Pruitt said:

Opening Statement:

“Our team is very excited to get an opportunity to play again. It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve played. I know that’s probably the case for everybody. But had a really good week of practice. Kids are very positive. Very upbeat. I know they’re excited about the opportunity to go into Auburn. Playing a really good football team. Very familiar with Auburn and their staff and lots of players. They’re really doing a nice job this year. Offensively, being very explosive. Starts with their quarterback. Bo Nix is one of the better players in our conference, a guy that can hurt you with his feet, his arm, can extend plays. Got really good weapons all around him, wide receiver and running back. Defensively, they’ve always played very good defense. Play hard, play tough. They’re aggressive. Special teams, same thing. Really no weaknesses. So it will be a tremendous challenge for us and our guys are looking forward to it.”

On why Tennessee has struggled to execute this season:

“Well, we turned the ball over seven times in I think six quarters. That didn’t help there, for a stretch. Just as a whole, we’ve not put a complete game together. Not the first two games. Definitely not the last four. So we’ve got to continue to work hard to find ways to win. Starting with taking care of the football, getting more turnovers on defense. Creating some plays in special teams. Whether it’s in the return game or possibly getting a turnover on a kicking situation. And eliminated explosive plays defensively. We’ve obviously had issues offensively on third down. And probably likewise defensively on third down. So we have to improve in all those areas.”

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On Auburn’s secondary:

“There’s a lot of new faces back there, seems to me. And they’ve played a lot of guys. So I think they’ve played hard. Got their hands on a lot of balls. Play really tight coverage, aggressive. I think they’ve done a really nice job.”

On Vols senior wide receiver Velus Jones:

“It’s one thing in the return game, he hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunities. So many guys kick the ball in the end zone. He’s a guy that we feel like has playmaking ability. We’ve got to find ways to get him the ball and give him an opportunity to do that. We’ve got to create some design plays and take advantage of his ability.”

On why Velus Jones has struggled to get on the field:

“For one, him getting here, we didn’t have spring ball, right? So he’s never been in our system. I don’t have to go into how unique this entire season has been for somebody that is a first-time guy (at a new school). He’s a guy that we definitely over the next four weeks want to get him more involved in the offense. He’s a good leader on our team that works hard. We need to find ways to take advantage of his ability.”

On if seniors will have the opportunity to return for a second senior season:

“All of our guys have the opportunity and we would love to have them all back. It’s really a unique circumstance that you would almost look at it as a junior that’s deciding whether or not he wants to declare for the draft. So I think with the circumstances being available for them to come back, I think it’s a great opportunity for not just our guys, but everybody in college sports, to take advantage of it, and I’m sure we’ll have a lot of them that do and there might be a few that don’t. But we’re really focused on Auburn right now, and as the season ends, we’ll address that with the seniors.”

Continuing on seniors having the opportunity to return for a second season:

“Oh yeah, absolutely. A lot of guys have already told me they are coming back, and it’s probably an easy decision for them. Maybe there’s a few that just want to wait until the season’s over just to see if they want to go ahead and declare for the draft, so we’ll see as the season goes.”

On how much input he has with the offensive gameplan because of his relationship with Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele:

“When you have some familiarity, it’s obviously easier to give input to the offensive coaches. When they say hey, what are they doing here? Or why are they doing it this way? Yeah, I would think that would help. And hey, me and Kevin (Steele) talk very frequently. I called him, I think it was last Wednesday night, and asked him what he was doing. He said he was working on Tennessee, so jokingly I was giving him a scouting report.”

On if the scouting report he gave Kevin Steele was accurate:

“No, we both got a kick out of it, that’s for sure. I think Kevin (Steele) does a really, really good job. I had the opportunity to work with him when I first got in the college game. Was very enjoyable. We’ve stayed in constant communication since.”

On the quarterback depth chart heading into Saturday’s game against Auburn:

“Well, I’m going to wait and let that show itself on Saturday, you know? With Jarrett (Guarantano) going down at the last game and obviously being out, we worked a lot of guys. I don’t think it does us an advantage to tell Auburn who we’re going to play at quarterback.”

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