Jeremy Pruitt Press Conference Transcript and Video Download – April 9

Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt – 2019 Spring Practice
April 9, 2019

Opening Statement: 
“To start with, Carlin Fils-aime is out for the spring now. He had to have a procedure on his leg. He will be back and ready to go in July. It is unfortunate for him. He was having a really good spring, and with being a senior and in his last go around, he was frustrated with it, but it is something that needed to be done and he will be back better than ever. With the scrimmage the other day, offensively there were a few things I thought we had done well. We eliminated penalties, eliminated third downs, handled the four-minute situation, but we still have a bad snap or two occasionally. Offensively, we cannot start a play if you cannot get the ball from the center to the quarterback. We have to improve from that standpoint, and we cannot have any issues there. We did not create that many explosive plays as we would like too. We created to many negative plays whether it was in the run game or in sacks, and just not finishing. Whether it is in the run game, the pass game, or blocks, you have to be able to finish. Defensively, I thought there was a lot more strain on the defensive side of the ball. I saw a little more effort than I saw in the previous scrimmage with a lot more not back tackles and guys trying to finish. Guys were pressuring the quarterback. We did give up a couple of big plays and we need to eliminate those. We really got to improve consistency at all three levels whether it starts with communication, getting lined up, or playing the proper technique. We got to find a way to get more turnovers. In the kicking game, Brent Cimaglia continues to have a good camp. We got to get more consistency with our punters and our long snappers. They have plenty of ability and experience. Just have to do it every single day the right way. We got three opportunities this week. We got to continue to work hard and be a tough, fundamentally sound football team. Today is another opportunity. We will see where we go and really improve from the last scrimmage to this scrimmage. We had 12 pretty good days, and today is day 13. We are pretty excited to get back out there. I think our guys have worked hard and we have come a long ways since spring has started. We have to continue to improve and clean up some of our techniques so we can play clean football.”

Credit: UT Athletics

On offense being further along in certain areas: 
“We have been more consistent running the football, and we have less mental errors this year than this time last year. We are bigger and stronger. We can push a little more and with more consistency doing that. I think especially with our ones, Jarrett (Guarantano) has experience and Saturday was not his best practice and might have been his worst practice for the spring, but we got to have more consistency there. We have some guys with playmaking abilities on the offensive side that have some experience putting in a new system. I think it has relatively been easy for the guys, just watching from afar at it. You could not tell it was a new system.”

On format of the spring game: 
“We will have the Orange Team and the White Team. One team will consist of the first defense and the second offense. They will play against the first offense and the second defense. We will play a game. We traditionally in the spring will have a running clock until we get to the last four minutes of each half, then it goes into a two-minute situation. If you play that way, you’re probably going to get 50 snaps with each group. I think we hope to play a little faster so we can get more snaps. We like to get somewhere between the 65-70 range. Something that has to do with putting drives together. I think it will be a great opportunity. This past Saturday, we had a 151 play scrimmage. That’s far and away the most we have had since we have been here. We need it. We need to play. We have lots of guys in the last scrimmage that played somewhere between 50 and 70 snaps. That’s close to playing an entire game. That’s what we need. We need guys that are game ready come the fall.”

On emergence of edge rushers: 
“Well, I thought in this past scrimmage Kivon Bennett had a good scrimmage. He is a guy that we moved last year from defensive line to outside linebacker. We were fortunate enough to be able to redshirt him last year. He’s gained some experience there. He still makes a few mental errors here and there, but I think he plays hard. It gives him a chance to have some success at a position that he kind of fits than a defensive tackle.”

On SEC producing good edge rushers, and if there will be a drop off: 
“No, there won’t be a drop off of defensive football in this league. Guys in this league recruit too well. Lots of teams have depth, so there’s always elite pass rushers in this league.”

On progress of offensive line: 
“It’s not where we want to be, but there is a lot of positives. We have guys that have really improved this spring. We have to be more consistent. We have to play with a little better pad level. We have to become better finishers. I think up front, you have to know what to do. If you know what to do and who you are blocking, you give yourself a chance. You have to have the proper technique. You have to execute the technique with the proper pad level. You have to be able to finish. It’s one thing to know who to block when you start the technique, but you have to finish. That’s one thing that we need to improve on in the next three practices.”

On using to spring game to elevate on the depth chart: 
“I think it’s a great opportunity for a lot of guys. It’s the third scrimmage. It’s the way practices are set up now with the NCAA rules. You get three opportunities to actually go play football like you play on Saturdays. We do all this stuff. All the practices. All the offseason. All the training. All the conditioning, nutrition and treatment. Everything really for 12 opportunities. You want to make sure when you get those 12 opportunities that you get it right. Saturday is a big deal. It’s a big deal to our players. It’s very important to any program. You get the opportunity to go out and play in front of a bunch of people and see if you can do it the right way. When you don’t do it the right way, how do you respond? It’s a platform for everybody to see who takes advantage of it.”

On how Deangelo Gibbs has been on defense: 
“Deanglo has done really well at the STAR. We have played him there, because it’s what he’s played before and is what he knows. After you practice nine times, you put him over there so you have a chance to see what his skillset is. He’s a big guy that is a good blitzer. He plays well against the run and has really soft hands. He picked off a pass the other day in a scrimmage. That is one of the things you need to have in the back end. When the offense makes a mistake, you have to make them pay, and he is a guy that can do that. There are lots of little things that need to be cleaned up, but that’s because he missed the first nine days. We are going to leave him on the defensive side of the ball so he can get three more practices to give him six on the defensive side and be able to make a decision about where he needs to go from there.”

On incentives to win the spring game and what the kicking game has looked like: 
“I think the first incentive is pride. We have tried to make every day where there are winners and losers, and there are consequences. It’s kind of heated up our spring practice a little bit. I think we have had really good competitions within positions and with offense versus defense. It will be another opportunity to do that. If you love football, the opportunity to go practice in front of thousands of people should be incentive enough.

“As far as the kicking game, Marquez Callaway has done it for a couple of years and has lots of experience. We have been working with Ty Chandler, Bryce Thompson, Trevon Flowers and Jordan Murphy. These guys took reps last year. It takes a guy with experience to stand out there and catch these punts that hang up there for five seconds with 10 guys screaming on top of you in front of 100,000 people. We have been doing a lot of live situations, trying to get these guys to where they are game ready. We can simulate it all. We just can’t simulate the 100,000 people.”

On defense through two-thirds of spring practice and corner position behind Baylen Buchanan: 
“We teach everything conceptually, so most every single guy of our secondary can play multiple spots. For the last six or seven practices, we have worked Nigel Warrior there (and) Shawn Shamburger. Baylen can play there. There are lots of players that can play the STAR position or money. (Bryce) Thompson has moved in and out. All our guys can play multiple spots based on concepts. We are creating depth there, which is good. We also have competition.”

On groups of players he is looking to respond in the spring game:
“I would say everybody. You are only as good as the last time you went out on the field. We are not good enough to take any days off. So you want to see everybody respond the right way and compete and improve.”

On additions of Jim Chaney and Tee Martin to the staff:
“I think Jim is a very good teacher. He is really demanding. He has a really good teaching direction. I have said in several meetings that when he coaches, he coaches. The fact that he is not particularly coaching a position, he can walk around to each individual group and tease a guy that brings a lot of energy, a lot of knowledge to the position. I see our guys developing confidence on the outside. I think our wide receivers are probably our most experienced group on our team and it shows by the way they go about their business every day. But I see a lot of improvement in that position.”

On how Warren Burrell has settled into the team: 
“I think Warren is a guy that has really good ball skills. He is instinctive and conscientious. He probably needs to get a little stronger and a little bigger. He has come from a very good high school program. He has played on some good football teams. He is a guy that has been able to get his hands on some balls out there and shows up where the balls at. He has to improve his tackling abilities and help us on special teams. He has to just continue to work and improve every single day.”

On decision to hire Tee Martin: 
“First of all, he won a national championship here. I have recruited against Tee for a very long time and he is first class. He does it the right way. He builds great relationships with the players and family. I have coached against him. Just watching from afar, the offenses that he has been in charge of has been very successful. If you look at the guys that he particularly coaches, the wide receivers he had at USC, there have been lots of guys that have been very productive. They were skilled, but had really good technique and played the right way.”

On the tight end position: 
“Dominick Wood-Anderson was here last year, Austin Pope played some (and) Andrew Craig. We have Jackson Lowe that we have worked on. Jacob Warren is in there. Princeton Fant is working in that position now. We have guys that have a skillset that fits the position. They don’t have a whole lot of experience. The only way to get that experience is to go out there and practice every single day. When you talk about a tight end and what you ask them to do, you have to block a 300 hundred pound guy and to be able win, he has to pass pro and flex out and run routes like a wide receiver. So there is a lot that goes into that skillset and some of the guys do certain things better than others. Dominick is a guy that can kind of do all of it. We just have to continue to improve at that position.”


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