HOOVER — If this college coaching thing doesn’t work out for Jeremy Pruitt he’s for sure got a future in sales.
The Tennessee football coach used 20 of his allotted 30 minutes at SEC Media Days selling his Volunteers.
He talked about a successful recruiting class, having the “best coaching staff in the country,” development of players during the spring, and even the high academic achievement.
He hit all the high points in his 20-minute opening statement. But it’s all just talk. On the field is a different story.
Pruitt enters his second season as a head coach. His debut was an unimpressive 5-7 effort, which included just two SEC wins and a last-place finish in the SEC East.
So how does he get the Volunteers to get back to the days of being a national championship contender?
“When I was growing up, Tennessee was one of the premier programs in the country, and that’s still the expectations of the fans,” Pruitt said. “You know, so we got to do our part. And we have a plan as a staff. You know, we’ve got to execute the plan. Our players, they believe in our vision and the kids that we’re recruiting. And it takes a lot that goes into it, and we’re continuing to work our plan.”
That plan starts with improving the defense, which allowed 33.5 points per game last season and 36 points in SEC games. The Vols ranked 12th last season in the SEC in scoring defense.
The Vols, who haven’t won the SEC East since 2007 and have played in just five bowl games since then, have quite a ways to go to right the ship. It doesn’t help losing to Missouri and Vanderbilt in blowouts to end the season.
On offense the Vols are counting on quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to step up and turn around the offense that was inconsistent in 2018 and was 11th in the league in passing offense and last in total offense.
“The thing that I see that excites me the most is the impact he’s having on his teammates,” Pruitt said of Guarantano. “I think that’s a true mark of a leader, is having a positive impact on the people you’re around. And I see him developing and doing that, and that’s what excites me about him and the future of our program