It took Jeremy Pruitt six games to win his first road Southeastern Conference game against a ranked opponent.
That’s tied with Jimbo Fisher for the fastest among active coaches, who also accomplished this feat in his sixth game. That leaves Joe Moorhead, Barry Odom, Chad Morris and Derek Mason still looking. For the record, it took Nick Saban 44 games, and no that doesn’t mean Pruitt is better than Saban before anyone starts yelling. It took Dan Mullen 19, Kirby Smart 15 and Gus Malzahn 20.
Pruitt won this game with a team that’s clearly overmatched when it comes to talent. The senior class at Tennessee is almost non-existent. They’re one of the only teams to not have a senior make a start yet on the offensive side of the ball. It’s Pruitt’s feel for the game that makes him stand out.
Flash back to the West Virginia game in week one. It was the third quarter and Jeremy Pruitt jumped up and down while screaming at Nigel Warrior. He backed up before the play and still got burned for a touchdown, but it was clear Pruitt knew where Grier was going on that play.
In the Florida game, Pruitt called a perfectly timed onside kick when Tennessee had some momentum and had it been executed, the Vols would have recovered the ball as there were three Tennessee defenders to the one offensive player for the Gators.
Back to the Auburn game. With the game tied 10-10 in the second quarter and again before the play, Pruitt jumped up and down while screaming at defensive back Baylen Buchanan to blitz on the play at the last second. Buchanan came in almost untouched and forced Jarrett Stidham to throw a bad interception to Jonathan Kongbo.
See, it’s all about the feel for the game with Pruitt. He doesn’t use a chart he sticks to no matter what. Pruitt knows when to take calculated risks and that’s what it takes to beat good teams. The man also doesn’t try to outcoach himself. If Tennessee needs a yard, he lines up under center. If Tennessee needs to go for two to make it a FG or TD game, that’s what he does. He relies on his instincts and that’s usually what works.
The Vols have found a football coach. He doesn’t have the best gimmicks or the best quotes, as sometimes it appears he’d rather be anywhere else in the world besides in front of the mic. But, he’s a football coach and that’s what Tennessee’s been looking for.