The Tennessee Volunteers are set to take on ETSU tomorrow in coach Jeremy Pruitt’s first ever home game in Neyland stadium. This will be a much needed game for Pruitt and the Vols. They will need to use this game to hone in on their strengths and fix some weaknesses. Here is a preview of the Buccaneers.
COLORS: Navy Blue and Gold
STADIUM: William B. Greene Jr. Stadium (7,694)
SCHOOL LOCATION: Johnson City, TN
HEAD COACH: Randy Sanders (1st year)
2017 RECORD: 4-7 (2-6)
STARTERS RETURNING: Offense 7, Defense 8, Specialists 5
KEY RETURNEES: (LB) Blake Bockrath, (LB) Austin Gatewood, (DL) Nasir Player, (LB) Dylan Weigal, (QB) Austin Herink, (WR) Quan Harrison, (WR) Kobe Kelley, (OL) Matt Pyke, (K) JJ Jerman
ETSU coach Randy Sanders will make the short trip back to Knoxville where he played and coached a few years ago. Sanders was the Vols offensive coordinator under coach Phillip Fulmer when Tennessee last won the National Championship in 1998. ETSU is a member of the Southern Conference and is located in Johnson City, TN. In the 2017 season ETSU went 4-7 overall and 2-6 in conference. The Vols should come out of this game with a comfortable win, giving them the chance to make adjustments and fix many glaring holes.
Pruitt and this team have a lot of things to figure out and not a lot of time to do it in. Tennessee’s biggest downfall against West Virginia was inconsistency. The Vols held their own through the first half and showed a lot of positives.
When the second half came around Tennessee completely fell apart. There was an overall lack of communication and the defense looked lost most of the second half. The offensive line just has not had the time to become a unit and it definitely showed. The next three weeks leading up to the Vols taking on Florida will be somewhat of a tell all for how this season will go.
The injury bug has struck the offensive line once again and the thought of another nightmare season now lingers in Knoxville. Alabama grad transfer Brandon Kennedy, Vols starting center, will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury. Pruitt has stated that he remains to have a lot of confidence in the offensive line moving forward and that he has prepared them for this very situation.
Pruitt will need to use these next two games to work out the bugs and get the team ready for what will be a tough test against Dan Mullen’s Florida Gators. I’ll be the first to admit that I got a little too confident in this team. It’s a tough pill to swallow but Jeremy Pruitt will need some time to get Tennessee back to being a competitive SEC team. Overall I still believe this staff will have success. Time will bode well for Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee Vols.
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