2. Forcing players into a system that doesn’t fit them
This is a big one. Tennessee football struggled significantly under Butch Jones not just because he micromanaged the system he wanted to run but because he forced his system on players it didn’t fit. Demanding a specific system can work if you’re specific about who you recruit.
But Jones went after anybody who was good, indiscriminately, and then tried to force them into his specific system. The result was disastrous for many players. Jalen Hurd was just one example. A power back in a shotgun spread made no sense.
On top of Hurd, he relied on pocket passers with slow releases in Justin Worley, Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano to run his spread. That’s a recipe for disaster. His spread needs either a mobile quarterback or one who is deadly accurate with a quick release.
Jeremy Pruitt is going back to a pro-style offense with Tyson Helton, and we’ve heard Helton’s philosophy. Comparing that with what he did while offensive coordinator of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, it’s clear he is willing to adapt to his personnel.
Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer may be a bit more stubborn on defense with their expectations. But they clearly are focused on maximizing the talents of their best players, which is why they had so many position changes in the offseason.
To be fair, Jones isn’t the only guy who had this issue. Phillip Fulmer, who was great at adapting to his personnel for most of his career, lost his job because of an issue like this his final year. The same thing happened to Derek Dooley. But that actually applies to our final mistake Pruitt must avoid on Rocky Top.