The SEC releasing its full conference schedule on Tuesday afternoon meant Tennessee could unveil its finalized 2019 schedule, which includes eight home games, the start of a two-game set with BYU and Mississippi States first visit to Knoxville in more than a decade.
“You can see the intensity that Jeremy Pruitt brings to this new program,” SEC Network analyst D.J. Shockley said. “Theres a new culture. Theres a new way they practice. He is bringing that intensity early. The only way these guys know how is the way he coaches, and he gets after them — as you can see.”
The way the calendar falls also allows for two open dates (Sept. 28 between Florida and Georgia and No. 16 between Kentucky and Missouri) during the season.
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Tennessees home SEC slate includes visits from Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, while the Vols will face their usual odd-numbered-year visits to rivals Florida and Alabama in addition to trips to Kentucky and Missouri.
Sophomore linebacker Will Ignont has made nine tackles in the last two games while filling in for Quarte Sapp, who has been limited because of a bone bruise. The former four-star prospect has impressed Pruitt with his “understanding” of Tennessees defense.
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In addition to the game against BYU, Tennessees non-conference slate looks rather friendly with Georgia State, Chattanooga and UAB.
Instead, as Johnson sprinted toward the sideline to avoid a 12-men-on-the-field penalty that would have given Texas-El Paso a first down, Pruitt called a timeout to eliminate the risk of UTEP snapping the ball before Johnson made it off the field.
Share Share Jeremy Pruitt breaks down Florida, Dan Mullen tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Jeremy Pruitt is getting ready to take on the Florida Gators for the first time as Tennessees head coach. For Tennessee fans, this has typically been the measuring stick game. If youre going to compete in the SEC East, that means taking care of the Gators first in September.
Florida, just like Tennessee, is beginning a new era. Dan Mullen was hired away from Mississippi State to replace Jim McElwain. Floridas new head coach is far from a mystery for Pruitt, who faced him plenty during his time with Alabama.
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Were very familiar with Coach Mullen and the guys on his staff, Pruitt told the media on Monday. Their teams are always physical, theyre tough, theyre sound, they play hard, theyre good in all three phases, so its no different this year there.
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The Mullen era has started with a 2-1 record — the only loss coming to the Kentucky Wildcats. That loss snapped a streak of 31 consecutive victories for the Gators over the Wildcats.
Offensively, they havent turned the ball over much, Pruitt said. I think theyre plus five in three games. They can stretch the field. Theyve got good wide receivers, a quarterback with a big arm (Feleipe Franks) who can extend the plays. Well definitely have a challenge. Theyve got a really good returner — Freddie Swain — in the punt return game.
(Dan Mullens) offenses are always very physical. Theyre sound, very well-coached. They give you different looks — if you look over the years, he adapts to the players that he has. Hes very multiple, always tough to get off the field on third down. Theyve always been a team that runs the ball a lot on third down. Weve got to be conscious of that. Hell go for it on fourth down, you know, and its tough to keep them to field goals in the red area.
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The Gators are led offensively by Franks, who has thrown for 570 yards and nine touchdowns in the first three games. They have five players who have contributed significant carries in the rushing game, including Franks, who is over 100 yards for the year.
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I think their guys have done a really good job, Pruitt said. What I see is kind of what youve seen over the years from a Dan Mullen coached offense. To me, they look like theyre probably ahead of where they should be.
“Physically hes 100 percent,” he said during his weekly press conference. “I think when you go back, theres lot of things each week you prepare for what your opponents done, but you kind of lay a foundation in spring ball, summer camp, fall camp. Hes not got a chance to do that, so theres certain things that have came up in each game that hes probably not seen before. He probably didnt see it in practice.
Defensively, Todd Granthams group remains a bit of a mystery. Florida gave up 27 points and 454 yards of offense to Kentucky in Gainesville just two weeks ago. 303 of those yards came on the ground as Benny Snell ran wild.
Vegas likes Florida by one score, despite having to play on the road. This game will serve as Tennessees best chance for an SEC win over the next month, with Georgia, Auburn and Alabama up next.
Vols 2019 football schedule released, includes game against Mocs
When I was growing up it was always the first big SEC game of the year, Pruitt said. I always loved to watch it. Always a lot of passion with both fan bases, a lot of tradition. Im thankful to have the chance to be a part of it.
The 6-foot-6, 320-pound Smith, a Freshman All-American in 2017, will be a little more than a month removed from getting the green light to resume full-contact work when Tennessee hosts SEC East rival Florida on Saturday night at Neyland Stadium (7 p.m., SEC Network).