Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt: Vols lack poise, show poor body language

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football lacked poise last season, and it sounds like the Vols are having the same issues this spring.

“I could have turned my head while the ball was being snapped and not watched the play, and then looked back around and I could have told you what happened without looking at the down and distance, all based off body language, and that’s not a good thing,” Pruitt said after the team’s scrimmage Saturday.

“So, there’s gonna be adverse situations in the games, there’s gonna be situations where things don’t go our way, and how are we gonna play? How are we gonna respond?” Pruitt said. “It’s like I told the guys out there [Saturday], there’s a reason they put four quarters on the scoreboard.

“You want to play well in all of them, and obviously you want to play well on every play, but there will be times when things don’t go your way, and sometimes they are not.”

Tennessee suffered issues with poise under pressure in 2017. The Vols lost games decided in the final minute against Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky, unable to come together in the clutch and execute.

No doubt, Tennessee fans suffered when a Vols defensive back let a receiver get behind him in the loss to the Gators, and the Tennessee offense couldn’t score on four plays from the Gamecocks’ 2-yard line in the final minute.

At Tennessee, losing to Kentucky in football is not acceptable under any circumstance, much less when the Vols won the turnover battle 4-0 and outgained the Wildcats 445-371.

An NFL scout called out the Tennessee seniors in the preseason last fall for being “soft,” and not having the right mentality, foreshadowing an 0-8 SEC season.

RELATED: Jeremy Pruitt not impressed with Tennessee’s first spring scrimmage

Now Pruitt is seeing the same things, saying Saturday that the team lacks “pop” when it comes to physicality, as well as poise when it comes to handling adversity.

Pruitt said there weren’t any players or position groups that jumped out at him during a scrimmage that featured between 110 and 120 snaps for the first- and second-team players at Neyland Stadium.

“The big thing I saw was body language, and to me, a lot of guys carrying their feelings on their shoulders,” Pruitt said. “One of the most important things in any sport is to keep your poise, play the next play, so that’s one thing we need to improve on, for sure.”

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