By LARRY VAUGHT
Since he followed Mark Stoops at Florida State when Stoops left to become head coach at Kentucky, first-year Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt knows what Stoops can do as a coach.
“They’re going to be very well coached and hard-nosed. He does a fantastic job evaluating talent,” Pruitt said. “They have a lot of experience. They start 15 seniors, you can see it on both sides of the ball.
“They’re tough, they’re physical, they can run the football offensively. They have a very athletic quarterback. It seems like some of these guys have been playing forever. They have playmakers on the outside.
“Defensively, they’re sound and they stop the run. They give you multiple looks and they’ve got good pass rushers. They have good guys out on the edges that can deny the ball. Special teams, they give you multiple looks and they have good returners. The punter does an outstanding job. We’ll have to be at our best and it will be a tremendous challenge for us.”
Kentucky plays at Tennessee Saturday at 3:30 p.m. when it will try to win in Knoxville for the first time since 1984. A win would also give UK a sixth Southeastern Conference win and raise UK’s record to 8-2.
Kentucky lost 34-17 to Georgia last week when a win would have put the Cats in the SEC Championship game. Georgia beat visiting Tennessee 38-12 in late September.
“Georgia has a really good football team. They won the East already and we’re in week eight or nine. They have a good football team and they made some plays and made a few more than Kentucky,” Pruitt said. “They played everybody on their schedule and they beat everybody. So, they’re the champions.”
However, Pruitt, the former defensive coordinator at Alabama before coming to Tennessee, says it’s obvious Kentucky’s program is getting better.
“”You see right now on their two-deep there’s probably over 30 guys, maybe 35 guys, that have been there for three or four years. They’ve been in the system and they understand it. It’s obvious they have a lot of experience and they found a way to win,” Pruitt said.
“They’ve won on the road and they’ve won at places that are tough to win at and you can see that. You can see it in how they play. There’s not a lot of mistakes that they make. They make you earn everything that you get. There’s not a lot of errors on the offensive side, so we need to play really well.”