Jeremy Pruitt Desires More Turnovers From Vols Defense

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(utsports.com) Knoxville, Tenn. – After the Tennessee football team forced only one turnover in week one, Vols’ head coach Jeremy Pruitt is seeking more takeaways this Saturday against BYU inside Neyland Stadium.

Following Tennessee’s third practice of the week on Haslam Field, Pruitt said the key to creating turnovers is fundamentals.

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“The first way to create turnovers is to hit people,” Pruitt said. “There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned hit. We’ve all seen it. We probably saw some on Saturday. We need more old-fashioned hits — legal, good, clean football where you knock the ball off somebody. And then when you get a bunch of people to the ball, you knock the ball off, you rip the ball off. It’s awareness. And then when the ball is in the air, whether it’s getting your hands up and tipping some balls or finishing in the back end, when you effect the quarterback it seems like there’s more turnovers there, so we need to be more aggressive, play aggressive, tackle aggressive in our approach.”

Pruitt liked what he saw in the midweek practice, noting high energy and competition he felt throughout the afternoon.

“We had a pretty good practice out there today, had a lot of energy,” Pruitt said. “Both sides of the ball, a lot of competition, so that’s good. I said it before between the first week and the second week is when you usually have your most improvement as a football team and we certainly have a lot of areas that we can improve at. Our guys are kind of sticking their noses to the ground and going at it as hard as they can. That’s what they’ve got to do and that’s what everybody’s got to do.”

The Vols are only looking forward, not back. Pruitt added that round one is over, and the team is looking towards round two.

“Everybody has gone back to work,” Pruitt said. “It wasn’t like we went into last week and didn’t have good practices. We’ve had good practices all camp. I’m talking about effort, trying to do it the right way.”

New Guys Make Impact
Pruitt noted that newcomers had an impact in Saturday’s game against Georgia State. Six Vols made their first career starts in the opener: freshman cornerback Warren Burrell, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Greg Emerson, freshman linebacker Henry To’o To’o, junior defensive lineman Darel Middleton, freshman offensive lineman Wanya Morris and junior defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon.

“Several guys played for the first time,” Pruitt said. “A lot of those guys played better than their peers. We have War Daddy boards and several of those guys were on there. They played pretty well.”

To’o To’o recorded four solo stops and ended the game with seven total tackles and half a tackle for loss. Solomon racked up six tackles and a quarterback hit. Emerson’s stat line included five total tackles and a half tackle for loss. Burrell and Middleton both recorded three tackles.

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