Pruitt touts progression of young players, says Maurer will be ‘fine’ after concussion

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – In his Monday press conference, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said freshman QB Brian Maurer will be ‘fine’ after sustaining a concussion in their 20-10 win over Mississippi State while also taking time to praise the progress made by his young team.

GALLERY: Mississippi State at Tennessee photos

Despite two first-half redzone interceptions thrown by Brian Maurer, Pruitt opened his press conference Monday by praising the late-game execution by the Tennessee offense. “One of the big positives out of the game was the way our offense took over in the last 8 minutes of the game, (they) had a 91-yard drive.” Pruitt said. “It was very positive. We challenged them to do that, they did that.”

Freshman QB Brian Mauer left the game in the second quarter and did not return. He was replaced by senior Jarrett Guarantano. Pruitt on Monday dispelled any worries of a longterm absence by the freshman.

Senior wide receiver Tyler Byrd sealed Saturday’s win with a 39-yard touchdown on a pass from Jarrett Guarantano.

“It was good to see. Tyler (Byrd) works hard out there. He’s really worked hard on hands, improving his ball-catching ability. That was good to see because he’s always been able to run. He’s a strong runner. He took advantage of the opportunity.”

While the defense held SEC-leading rusher Kylin Hill to just 13 yards on 11 carries Saturday, Pruitt reemphasized the need for greater execution from his front seven.

“We are changing the line of scrimmage a little bit more. Are we where we need to be? Heck no. We got a long way to go before we stay on the other side of the line of scrimmage and control blockers and have a good understanding of how exactly to play it up there but we are improving. We’re young up front they’ll continue to get better.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game against No.1-ranked Alabama, Pruitt said few NFL teams could rival the Crimson Tide’s weapons at the wide receiver and quarterback positions, going on to say ‘they have to try to not score 100 points’.

When asked about a possible gameplan for the nation’s best team, Pruitt responded, ” There’s a high school team in Arkansas that onside kicks every time and never punts. We’ve thought about making that our game plan. Just never give them the ball.”

Tennessee opened as 35.5-point underdogs to No.1-ranked Alabama. They’ll take on the Crimson Tide Saturday in Tuscaloosa with the game kicking off at 9 p.m. eastern. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.

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