Pruitt: More positives than negatives from freshman QB Maurer’s first start

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Despite a 45-14 loss to #3 Georgia, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt touted freshman quarterback Brian Maurer’s abilities in his first-ever start for the Volunteers.

Tennessee freshman quarterback Brian Maurer made his first career start and sparked an offense that had stumbled and staggered through the first month of the season. Late in the second quarter, Maurer was 10 of 17 for 205 yards with two touchdowns. He was 4 of 11 for 54 yards with one interception and a fumble the rest of the way.

Pruitt said Monday in a press conference that Maurer would have to have a bad week of practice this week to not start their next game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Freshman running back Eric Gray entered the game with the second-most rushing attempts for the Vols but was held to a season-low of five carries vs Georgia. Junior RB Tim Jordan led all Tennessee rushers with 52 yards on nine carries. Pruitt pointed to a strong week of practice by as the reason for the increased usage.

While concerns remain over a pass rush that was unable to consistently pressure UGA QB Jake Fromm, Pruitt expressed excitement about the progress by the Vols’ offensive line.

“I am excited to see we got guys up front that are trying to finish people and put people into the ground. That’s a long ways from where we first started 22 months ago. We couldn’t find five offensive linemen to go out there to practice.”

Vols HC Jeremy Pruitt on growth of offensive line

Looking ahead to the Vols’ third game of SEC play against Mississippi State, Pruitt wasn’t unfazed by the potential of facing a team that has used two quarterbacks, Garrett Shrader and Tommy Stevens, in several games this season.

“That’s one of the things I was looking at this morning is what’s the difference between #6 (Shrader) and #7 ( Stevens) in the game and don’t see a whole lot. I had an opportunity last week because we were off to watch the Auburn game,” Pruitt said. He later continued by saying, “As you go back and look at their body of work, the other kid is running the football just as much too so I think that’s who they are. I don’t see a whole lot of difference.”

Tennessee (1-4) will host Mississippi State (2-2) Sat, October 12 at noon local time. The game will be broadcast live on the SEC Network.

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