Thoughts of the Day: September 19, 2019


A TIME FOR TOUGHNESS

“If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS” – W.C. Fields

When he was Nick Saban's defensive coordinator back in 2016-17, Jeremy Pruitt wasn't required to rely on exotic schemes and blitz packages to get the job done. When you have an entire stable of future first rounders at your disposal, you pretty much just give your guys a basic assignment, line them up and cut them loose.


That was then. This is now and now as Tennessee's head coach, Pruitt doesn't have a slew of 4- and 5-star athletes at his disposal, all of them drooling at the mere thought of overwhelming whoever is playing quarterback on the other team. The Crimson Tide combined for 94 sacks, 35 interceptions and 13 turnover returned for touchdowns in those two years. Last year in his first season at Tennessee, the Vols had a fairly average 25 sacks, only nine interceptions and three turnovers returned for touchdowns. Through three games this year, Tennessee has six sacks, four interceptions and hasn't registered a defensive touchdown.

When you have athletes, you turn them loose and let them make plays. When you have the athletes Pruitt is working with at Tennessee, you probably have to scheme and disguise every step of the way. Considering Tennesseee (1-2, 0-0 SEC) will be facing a Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC) team led by a quarterback who hasn't started a game since he led the freshman A team at Manvel High in Texas a few years back, you can almost expect the baffle them with BS approach in an attempt to daze and confuse Kyle Trask.


Whether it's bringing the heat from new angles to pressure Trask into bad reads and errant throws or showing blitz then dropping eight into coverage, Pruitt will try to exploit Trask's inexperience. It sounds good on paper, but the guy who Trask backed up three years on the Manvel High varsity would probably tell you such an approach would be a mistake. D'Eriq King, who threw for 36 touchdowns and ran for 14 last season as the starting QB at the University of Houston, remains close with Trask and he will tell you his old buddy isn't going to be rattled no matter what Pruitt elects to throw at him.


Speaking to reporters on Monday, King said, “Kyle is probably the most mentally strong guy I know.”


If there is one thing the Gators need to notch their second SEC win in as many weeks, it's for Pruitt to show his mental toughness Saturday afternoon. We saw in the Kentucky game that Trask had a bit of unexpected moxie about him when he led the Gators from 11 down to a 29-21 win after Feleipe Franks went down with a dislocated/fractured ankle.


But that was off the bench in a nothing to lose situation. Had Trask failed to lead the Gators to 19 straight points to win the game, it would have been dismissed as an inexperienced guy thrust into an untenable situation in a very hostile road environment except that he delivered. He made the smart decisions, t