KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – For the first time in what Jeremy Pruitt said has been a long time, the Vols head coach wasn’t happy with Tennessee’s practice on Wednesday.
“Everybody can work and get it right for one Saturday or a couple Saturdays,” Pruitt explained. “But being able to sustain working at a the level you have to work at to create the right habits, we didn’t do that today. We have to come back, watch the tape and figure out why and get it fixed.”
Saturday’s contest with Kentucky marks the sixth consecutive game without a break for Tennessee Football. Pruitt understands why his team is lacking energy on the practice field right now but wants to see his players push through and show maturity as they continue to make a push for post-season play.
“We are here in November, it is a grind,” Pruitt noted. “There are certain times. We are at that point, this is the sixth game since we have had an off week. As a coach, you circle that game in the preseason and say, ‘This is a game where we better find a way to be at our best.’ When you do things for a long period, we are banged up. We are sore, like every other team in the country. We have to show some maturity and be able to push through to get the work we need done so we can play at our best Saturday.”
Pruitt and his staff have actively worked to combat the fatigue of six consecutive Saturdays of football this fall by implementing, what the Vols second-year head coach called, an unusual practice schedule.”
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“It’s really based off Trey Smith, trying to give him an opportunity to take more reps,” Pruitt said. “Then based off, if you play at 8 o’clock or 9 o’clock at night and you don’t get in until six on a Sunday morning, just based off rest and when you play the following Saturday has a lot to do with it. I kind of changed a little bit this fall and tried to take some of that into account to help our guys be fresh.”
“We’re short of numbers. We’re probably operating at about 63 or 64 scholarship guys that are eligible to play based off injuries. We’re thin at certain positions, so we’ve got to be smart, we’ve got to be able to get them to the game, but at the same time, you’ve got to have focus, you’ve got to have mental energy, you’ve got to practice with the right intensity to be prepared to play on Saturdays.”
The Vols welcome an open date following their bout with the Wildcats. On the back end of an off week, Tennessee will prepare to travel to Mizzou on November 23rd before hosting the Commodores on November 30th.