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From the Sports Editor’s desk… Can Pruitt survive as head coach at Tennessee

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
The biggest question right now that is circulating on social media as well as among sportswriters and editors throughout the state is can Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt survive at Tennessee after the dismal recent showings of his team.

I personally think that there is more to the story as Paul Harvey used to say in his monologues.

There is something internally that has happened since the Georgia game in which the Vols were in a good position and then all of a sudden they had the second-half debacle that cost them the game.

It seems that Tennessee has been a good first half team all season and then in the second half the wheels fall off the bus.

A couple of things that are obvious is that with a front offensive line that coming into the season were expected to be one of the best have provided lackluster efforts this season.

Unlike counterpart Alabama that when the ball is snapped the offensive line has their opponents moving backward, the Vols led by Trey Smith and Georgia transfer Cade Mays can’t seem to maintain a block allowing their running backs and quarterbacks, no matter which one is in the game, to be swallowed alive.

Now, in the recent Arkansas game, I thought I saw that line provide freshman quarterback Harrison Bailey with some quality time but with Pruitt’s desire to ‘protect’ Bailey, he only gets a little mop up time.

Could it be those players in the locker room feel their coach is being unfair to the freshman by not letting him take his lumps as he is supposedly the future of the team?

I am not sure but I remember a freshman named Peyton Manning who came in several years ago who took some bumps and bruises early on only to rewrite every collegiate and professional record book.

Also, is Pruitt’s coaches performing up to par?

He already has fired a defensive line coach but could the real problem be sitting in the booth calling the offensive plays in offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.

Many feel that the game has already passed Chaney by and that is a fair speculation as witnessed by his playing calling and the predictability of his play calling as defensive lines have been able to shift their line based upon where the running back is lining up in the backfield and basically just snuffing out anything called.

So the answer to the initial question if Pruitt’s time is up depends on Pruitt.

Does he have enough intestinal fortitude to remove Chaney and possibly put Tee Martin in that role and make the move for the future to place Harrison in the lineup and be done with it.

I might say that time will tell but right now just like when Herod wanted the head of John the Baptist in the Bible, Tennessee fans are becoming more and more rabid calling for the head of Pruitt figuratively.

And, then if you do remove Pruitt, who in their right mind would want to come into a program who treats their head coach like a gladiator in a ring full of warriors fighting for his life when he messes up the first time.

That’s why many good coaches pass on the opportunity and the Vols have to settle for the fourth, fifth, and sixth-best candidate.

Pruitt, I believe is a good coach but he came into a program that had a ton of baggage and has even created some himself.

Now, will he be able to keep his job?

I believe he can but he will need to make some immediate moves because right now this season is already a discombobulation of mediocrity.

The ball is in his hands and will he continue to fumble it or make a couple of plays to salvage his future at the helm of the Big Orange.