Vols’ Pruitt talks penalties in Alabama loss, praises team character

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt praised his team’s character in a 35-13 loss to No.1-ranked Alabama and gave an update on QB Brian Mauer following his second concussion in as many games.

Pruitt opened Monday’s press conference with an opening statement where he praised the character of his team and coaching staff following back-to-back losses to open the season.

“I felt like Saturday we showed really good competitive character. There was adversity during the game,” Pruitt said. “Our guys tried to play through it, played hard, played tough. We obviously made some mistakes in the game that kept us from finishing the game off.”

Pruitt was also complimentary of the development of the offensive line and the Vols’ running game. “I thought the offensive line probably played their best game, playing together. (It) wasn’t perfect all the time. Our running backs ran the ball pretty well and we’ve got to build off that and continue to improve there.”

Freshman QB Brian Mauer made his third straight start against the Crimson Tide despite suffering a concussion the previous week against Mississippi State. Mauer was concussed in the first quarter and was replaced by Jarret Guarantano.

Pruitt was noncommital when asked if Guarantano or J.T. Shroot would face South Carolina this week if Mauer can’t play and added they would prepare and evaluate both during practice.

When asked about Guarantano’s fumble on the Alabama 1-yard line that was returned for a touchdown, Pruitt said the two have discussed the play and moved on it from. Pruitt later added that he has trust in Guarantano and all his players.

Pruitt expressed frustration over the number of penalties in a game Tennessee entered as the least penalized in the SEC. “There’s several things that I complained to the officials about during the game where I was wrong. There’s several other things that I don’t agree with.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game as the Vols host South Carolina, Pruitt said “the Gamecocks may have the best defensive line we’ve played all year.”

Pruitt touted the vibrant Neyland home crowd ahead of Saturday’s game against South Carolina. “Neyland has been electric all season and I know it will again on Saturday,” he said.

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