Jeremy Pruitt Press Conference

Monday, September 24, 2018 - by special to The Chattanoogan.com

 Opening statement:
"Going back and reviewing the game, it's a lot of what I thought. It's hard to have a lot of success when you have six turnovers. We gave the guys a short field three different times, and obviously, we turned it over on the one-yard line and on the 20 another time. Then we started the second half with a fumble on the opening kickoff.

Ball security is something that we work on every single day on both sides of the ball. It has been an emphasis for us. We've got to improve on it. We did a pretty good job on it the first two games, but we have not the last two games. We've got to continue to focus on it. We've got to continue to get more turnovers on defense, and we've got to take care of the ball, offensively. 
 
"On the defensive side, we had several guys that played their best game. When you look at the big picture part of it, there's three times that they created explosive plays in the passing game. Two times, we had guys relatively close to the guy that catches the ball. We have to finish on the ball. They made a throw and made catches, and we've got to finish on the ball. Another time, we had everybody covered, and when the quarterback scrambles, we turn everybody loose, which created an explosive play. When you look at it for us on the offensive side, there were several opportunities that we had to create some explosive plays.
 
"It was kind of the same scenario where we didn't come down with the ball, so we've got to finish on both sides. We have to improve in the run game. I thought this game was by far the worst game for us as far as being effective running the football. We have to be able to finish our blocks up front, and the backs have to fall forward. We have to move the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We have to do a better job protecting the quarterback, and the quarterbacks have to do a better job getting the ball out of their hands a little faster.
 
"We had a couple of breakdowns when we had seven-man protection. We have to do a better job coaching the guys up so they understand what they are going to get, and then go out there and execute. In the kicking game on kickoff return, we had a penalty and a fumble. That's not very good. Our kickoff coverage was pretty good. Our punt team did an outstanding job with a really good returner, and our punt return team, we have to find a way to either get some blocks, or create some run lanes so we can get some guys going there.
 
"As the game went, I said it after the game, and I saw it yesterday – I'm walking through the offices, and our offices are littered with our players watching tape. I had no idea they were up there. There's a group of guys that had them in there, talking about players and being leaders. I guess they organized it. That's the first time I've seen that, but I saw some ownership during the game the other day that excites me about moving forward. Some guys that really played their best game. And as more adversity hit, I saw guys try to play at their best, so that was positive. What we have to do is not create adversity ourselves. I've said it all along, we have to fix us before we start worrying about other teams."
 
On Quart'e Sapp's situation:
"It's like I said after the game, Quart'e's been a great ambassador. He came and saw me yesterday, and it's like I told you after the game. After him and I sat down and talked, it would be between us and we would keep it in house. I said it the other night, and I'll say it to our players: since I've been here, he has been a really good ambassador to our football program, to our team, and he's been a good leader on our team. Everybody mistakes, so we're going to move on, and we'll go from there."
 
On if Sapp will receive any punishment:
"We sat down and talked yesterday. Here's the thing guys, I've coached at a lot of places, and I've seen things like this happen before. I've seen guys not show up to practice on Tuesday, not show up to practice on Wednesday, and when you're dealing with 18 to 20-two year olds, there are lots of things going on. Things happen, but again, Quart'e has been nothing but a great ambassador for our program. He's a really good student, and he's a really good leader for our team."
 
On Jarrett Guarantano's injury:
"Jarrett got banged up a little bit, but I said when I first took the job that Jarrett is a tough guy. I saw him yesterday throwing balls and dropping in the indoor facility. I think a lot of our guys are itching to get going again, which is a good thing. You always wonder how people are going to respond when you don't play at your best. Everybody associated with Tennessee has got to be disappointed in how things turned out Saturday. Nobody is more disappointed than the men in this building. I think everybody involved is trying to find a way to get it right."
 
On the hit on Guarantano and if they sent it to the SEC office:
"I saw a guy playing hard. It is unfortunate Jarrett got hit the way he did, but guys play hard, and it wasn't intentional by any means the guy just stumbled around. No, we didn't send it in. I have confidence in the officiating crews. They are there to protect the players."
 
On working with Kirby Smart in the past:
"We worked together for six years. Kirby is a really good football coach. He is a very hard worker and focuses on the detail. He is a good coach on the field. He is a good scheme guy, and it's not just defensively. He is involved in special teams, and he's involved in offense. You can see all of that in their football program."
 
On UT's explosive plays:
"We had more explosive plays than Florida. We had eight, and they had seven. I do think you do want to be more productive on first down. That is something we need to do. I think Saturday we were 8-of-18 on third down, but I think five of the third downs we didn't convert were three yards or less. Those are the third downs you are supposed to convert. We actually converted some that were longer yardages, but again, it is hard to judge what our offense can do when you turn the football over. I thought in the second half there were three or four drives that we got stuck and went three-and-out several times in a row."
 
On the players facing adversity and responding:
"That's why I talked about the look in some of the guys eyes after the game. I saw guys trying to rise to the occasion after we went down 14-3. We didn't execute the onside kick, but we made them go three and out. The ball gets pinned deep. Did we execute? No. We got a safety, had a kickoff, and then they scored a touchdown the next play to make it 23-3. If you look through that point in the game there, it would have been real easy for guys to say it wasn't going to be our day. I didn't see that. I saw guys trying to find a way, and that is really positive for me. For me, you find out a little about yourself when adversity hits, and I thought some of these guys were trying to find a way. A lot of these guys played their best football Saturday. It takes everybody, it takes all 11 on each play, and we have to get a few other guys to raise their level of play. We have to take care of the football and finish at the end of plays."
 
On his thoughts about Georgia:
"I see a physical football team. They are big up front. I thought Jake Fromm was the most efficient quarterback that we played against last year. He is very accurate, he is like a coach on the field, he has command, and he keeps them out of bad plays and even puts them in good plays. They have really good receivers on the outside. They have good runners and good tight ends. Offensively, they are one of the best teams in the country. Defensively, they have big men up front, linebackers that can run, guys that rush the quarterback, guys who can deny the ball in the back end. Kirby and Mel Tucker have always done a good job at creating different looks that give you problems. They are really good at special teams because they have speed. They have a great football team, and they are really well coached."
 
On 
John Mincey's injury in warm-ups:
"Yeah, unfortunately, he hurt his elbow a little bit. It was good news, though. Nothing was broken. We held him out of the game, but I think he could've tolerated the pain. He wanted to play, but we had to hold him out. I saw him yesterday, and he had a big smile on his face, so hopefully we can get him back out here soon."
 
On the likelihood that Mincey will practice this week:
"Not today."
 
On his impression of the offensive line and if he anticipates any changes:
"I think we've kind of narrowed it down to the guys we think give us the best chance to have success. 
Chance Hall hasn't played the last two weeks, and he'll be a little better this week where he can possibly get a chance to play. Again, I've said it takes all five, so to me there's a lot to finishing blocks. I thought this week we were much cleaner and going in the right direction and playing with the right pad level. As the game wore on, I didn't see guys finishing the way they were in the first half. Sometimes, the runners have to press the holes a little bit. One thing in this league, a positive run is a good thing. You can't have negative runs. If you look at the best teams in this league, their negative runs are probable plus-one, plus-two and plus-three yards. When they have a good run, it's six or seven or maybe they might get out there in the secondary. We have to do a little more of that. We have to fall forward. You're not going to bust big runs outside and do things like that against good football teams. You have to press the hole and make cuts, and you have to get vertical and knock the pile forward."
 
On getting Chance Hall back:
"It's like I said during camp, he was on a little bit of a pitch count and got to fitting pretty well. He been a little bit stiffer, and we're getting him back. When we first knew he was coming back, we felt like sometime between this past week and this week would be the start of when he could play. It was so positive for him, we've kind of had to hold him back a little bit."
 
On the possibility of rotating linemen and Trey Smith's status:
"Trey's fine. With our offensive line, it's like any position, we have guys that are competing and creating depth. There's lots of guys that have opportunity, and we'll figure out our best combination moving forward and go with that."
 
On Baylen Buchanan's performance on Saturday:
"I thought this was one of Baylen's better games. He's one of the guys that I saw that I felt like answered the bell a little bit. I can remember one play in the game that I thought he could've done better on the ball down the sideline. He played a lot of press coverage and guarded guys really well. Baylen has talent, and he's gaining confidence, so that's a good thing."
 
On Austin Pope's fumble in the end zone:
"I told him that play was over with and to go play the next play. It's just a lesson to try and secure the ball, and if you watch the tape, he's running and when he gets hit he's trying to put his second hand on the ball. He just happened to knock it out himself. We went into the game wanting to be aggressive, and that's how we want to play. You also have to play smart, and he fumbled the ball. We coach him up every day, and if you look at it from securing the ball, he just knocked it out with his other hand. I just told him to play the next play."

 



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