Jeremy Pruitt Press Conference Full Transcript (Sept. 30)

Opening Statement:
“When you look at Georgia, it’s probably the best Georgia team that I can ever remember at this point in time in the season. Very complete on both sides of the ball and in the kicking (game). Offensively, it starts with Jake Fromm. To me, he does as good of a job as anybody in the country, and maybe as anybody I’ve ever coached against as far as keeping their offense in a positive situation. He takes care of the football, gets the ball out of his hand, controls protection, keeps them in positive run plays. If you look at their guys up front – they’ve got six or seven guys that play up front – very talented, big men. Their running back, D’Andre Swift, is as good as anybody in the country. The guy can make you miss, catch a ball out of the back field, has home run ability; he’s another guy that’s played a lot of football there. Probably tight end, Charlie Warner, he’s played the last three years, and he’s a really good football player. At wide receiver, they’ve had to replace a lot of guys, but they’ve replaced them with a couple of transfers and some guys that they’ve grown in their program that are big, tall, athletic and can create explosive plays. They run the football very efficiently, they’re balanced, so we’ve got to be able to stop the run, get off the field on third down, and find a way to create some turnovers. They’ve done an excellent job protecting the quarterback. Defensively, to me, they’ve added several pass rushers in this past signing class that you see out there, but they’ve got lots of depth up front, they’re big and physical. They’ve done a nice job stopping the run and haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season, and they’re creating many more negative plays probably than they have in the past. They’ve had a few injuries in the secondary, but they have depth back there and have done a really nice job. If you look at them in the kicking game, Rodrigo (Blankenship) seems like he’s been playing there for 10 years. They’ve got good returners, good speed on coverage teams, so it’ll be a challenge for our football team.”

Credit: UT Athletics

On the quarterbacks, and if he’s determined a starter for this week:
“We’re not going to give Georgia a scout report of what we’re going to do this week, so we’re going to rep the guys that give us the best opportunities to have success.”

On having fresh knowledge of UGA from OC Jim Chaney and how the team will go about utilizing him as a resource this week:
“It probably works both ways. With our staffs, we’ve all coached together over the years, so whether its offensively or defensively, we probably know some of the checks that each team’s accustomed to. At the end of the day it comes down to blocking, tackling, executing and taking care of the football. We’re familiar with them, they’re familiar with us, so it’ll be about the details and tangibles of the plays.”

On what sets Tennessee and him apart from Georgia and Kirby Smart’s defense:
“I don’t think there is a whole lot of difference in what either one of us does. If you look at how we played the last couple years, it has probably changed a little bit. Kirby Smart has been probably more of a 3-4 (defense) guy and we have been probably more of a 4-2-5. I think a lot of that has to do with personnel. As a football coach, both of us, we have a lot of things we can do in our systems. You figure out what is best for your personnel and if you look at them this year, they have added a lot of different wrinkles that I have not seen them do in the past, which makes sense because this is his (Smart’s) fourth year in the program. He has guys that have a lot of experience. They are playing a lot of guys on defense and trying to create roles for the guys. So, you see that with different packages of people that come in there.”

On why he thinks Kirby Smart has been able to establish Georgia as an elite program:
“I think the program he took over won 20 games in its previous two years. That helped. He had a very young football team that he inherited. He has done a really nice job and has a really nice staff together. It is a place where you can have success. Those guys were used to winning and now he has been recruiting in his fourth year and all those guys that he has there he has recruited there. He has done a nice job of that – evaluating talent and going to get some of the best players in the country and coaching them up. In this day and time, you need to be good at the quarterback position and he has a really good player there. Last year, they had two really good players there. They have got playmakers on the outside and they are big up front. They have recruited to their philosophy and you can see it.”

On if the bye week has been helpful for the younger players to take a step back and evaluate how they have been playing:
“We have worked really hard this past week. We have guys that are becoming more familiar with the positions that they are playing. It is good for us. It is not just our young guys, it is our older guys too. We have a lot of guys that have not played a whole lot of football and have improved. They have tried to master their position and that is something we have worked hard on this week.”

On why he was emotional after the Georgia game last year:
“It was the first time that I felt like we had competed like you are supposed to. If you go back to that game, there was a point in the game that was 24-12 and we had an opportunity on a third down and four to go down the field, but we didn’t. I guess you had to know who to grab when we got here to take a football team that was one of the best in the country and compete with them until the fourth quarter.

“One thing about me is that I am an emotional guy. I got into this business to be a positive influence on our players. It is something that I have always loved doing. When guys train and compete, it is what you want them to do. We have got to do that this week. To me, they are much improved on where they were last year. They are older and you can see that.”

On UT’s depth at linebacker:
“Well, Jeremy Banks is continuing to get better. Unfortunately, the Thursday before we played Florida, he turned his ankle really bad and struggled on that Saturday with trying to be able to compete, so we didn’t play him in the game. You’ve got Daniel (Bituli), you’ve got Henry (To’o To’o), you’ve got Jeremy, you’ve got J.J. Peterson, and Aaron Beasley is working there. So, we’ve got guys that are competing really hard every day at practice.”

On if he saw anyone elevate their role during the bye week:
“It was good for Jerrod Means, a guy that started off as a defensive back. He worked the whole summer until maybe July playing wide receiver and then worked at defensive back. So, it was good for him to get back and catch some balls there. Ramel Keyton, and also Cedric Tillman. Princeton Fant is a guy that has kind of bounced around but we’ve kind of put him at tight end to leave him there. So, all of our young guys have continued to improve. There’s a lot to learn about being a good football player. First of all, you’ve got to learn what you need to do to have success, but the other thing, and probably the most important thing is figuring out what the other team is trying to do to you. So, it’s a lot to learn, and these guys have worked hard to do that, and you’ll see guys’ roles increase as the season goes.”

On if freshman defensive back Tyus Fields has continued to progress:
“Tyus is a guy that is a runner, he’s a hitter, he’s got really good ball skills and he can play man to man. He’s a guy that was here during the spring, but he had injured his foot his senior year of high school, so he had foot surgery and he missed the entire spring. So, he gets here this summer and we put him at corner, and when we get to fall camp, we moved him to safety just to work him inside. So, that’s a lot to learn in a short period of time, but he’s a guy that has a bright future. He works really hard every day, so he’s just got to continue to go out there and compete and have a better understanding of what we’re trying to get done.”

On how he would evaluate the coaching staff so far this season:
“The biggest evaluation is your record and we’re 1-3. That’s what matters the most. We obviously as an entire coaching staff have to continue to improve and get our guys to play at a higher level. The big thing offensively is that we have to take care of the football. We’ve had nine turnovers in four games. Going into the season, we said that we needed to take care of the football, we need to be opportunistic on defense and we need to stay healthy. We’ve not been able to do any of those three things. Two of them we can control. So, we have to take care of the football and create some more turnovers. But as a coaching staff, we all need to do a better job.”

On teaching a program how to win:
“Creating the right habits every day. I had an opportunity just to watch some games on Saturday and to start with, the first thing I talked about is it’s just about the ball. It’s amazing, the team that doesn’t turn the ball over sees their percentages go up and have an opportunity to win. Teams that get a lot of turnovers, same thing. It’s just creating the right habits in the details and being able to do it over and over and over. Whether you’re playing at home, whether you’re playing away, whether you’re sore or tired or a little bit hurt. Creating depth and having a team that can do it, so that if one guy goes down, the next guy can come in and play winning football. To me that’s what you see, the guy that are playing the best football right now, that’s what they’re doing. If you look in the next 25 years, the teams that are doing it the best will be playing winning football too. I don’t think it’s changed. I think that’s what you have to do to have success.”

On Marquez Callaway’s impact this season:
“We have some really good wide receivers. It seems like Jauan (Jennings) has had more targets than some of the other ones, but we have to be able to get the ball to our playmakers. That’s something that we’ve really focused on here in the off week, not that we haven’t before, we’re just trying to make sure we can get some of these guys some touches.”

On Jarrett Guarantano’s confidence level:
“He had a really good practice last week, which isn’t unusual, he’s practiced really well in spring and fall camp. The big thing with Jarrett is taking it to the game and being consistent, creating the right habits. That’s something that he has to improve on in taking care of the football. That’s the number one goal.”

 

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