Tennessee Football lost its sixth-straight game of the year, and that could be in part due to Jeremy Pruitt coaching to survive, not win.
Tennessee football looked much better on Saturday night than they did in virtually any loss leading up to the game. Although the Vols looked better, the coaching staff brought the team down.
If the players would’ve had coaches that were coaching to win instead of coaching to survive, then they might’ve won the game, or at least had a realistic chance to win late in the fourth quarter.
It was clear, at least offensively, that Jeremy Pruitt and Jim Chaney were coaching to survive another week. They didn’t care about winning as much as they cared about keeping their job. The offense played it safe throughout the game, resulting in many punts and mismanaged drives.
If you don’t believe me, go back and watch the play-calling. The last time I’ve seen such poor and noncreative offensive play-calling was the last time I fired up NCAA Football 14 on my Xbox 360. There were an unbelievable amount of running back and wide receiver screens throughout the game that shouldn’t have been called.
Now we know why Georgia fans were more than glad to let Chaney come to Tennessee if we didn’t already know before. His playcalling is boring, uncreative, and has no hope at success. I know I’ve been stuck on Pruitt for the past few weeks, but after last night, it’s clear we have the talent to be good, but not the coaching staff.
That could be because Pruitt is a bad head coach, or he’s hired bad assistant coaches. The defense looked much improved on Saturday night, so maybe he’s finally figuring out the defensive side of the ball after eight games.
If Tennessee wants to be successful on offense in 2021, Pruitt will have to hire a competent offensive coordinator who knows how to run a good offense right now, not someone who’s stuck calling the same plays he called 20 years ago.
Looking at the offensive coaching staff, the only coaches I’d keep around are Tee Martin and Jay Graham. The receivers (coached by Martin) have continued to improve after losing Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings to the NFL, and the running backs (coached by Graham) have given us two solid running backs in Ty Chandler and Eric Gray.
Although the bad offensive coaching falls on Chaney, it also falls on Pruitt as the head coach. Pruitt has the ability to override play calls if he sees fit. For example, if you’re 2-5 and you are playing a rival down by 17, and you’re 40 yards from the endzone, you should probably go for it on fourth down.
It’s not a bad thing to be aggressive, and Pruitt showed some aggression early, but after a failed fake punt, it’s like he decided to play it safe for the rest of the game. The Gators turned around and missed a field goal, so the turnover on downs for Tennessee didn’t even turn into points for Florida.
Even though it’s unlikely, I’d like to see the coaching staff go all-in next week against Texas A&M and throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the Aggies. If Pruitt can get a win against A&M and then finish the season with a win against Vanderbilt, he might win over enough fans to keep his job for at least another season.