9. Jeremy Pruitt’s first game vs. Dana Holgorsen’s excuses
Both coaches bring different storylines to the game, and they can provide distractions for the players. The question then becomes which team will respond better to such distractions once kickoff happens.
Tennessee football’s distractions are clear. Jeremy Pruitt taking over the program as a first-year head coach obviously brings a ton of questions on its own. Players always face distractions with a guy like Pruitt in his first season. Being a first-year head coach at a specific program AND a guy who has never been a head coach before will do that.
However, Dana Holgorsen is adding to the drama. Holgorsen has spent all offseason making excuses for a loss that nobody believes is coming anyway. Billy Williford pointed out in July that he complained about facing 11 Power Five opponents this year.
Then came August, and he complained about the advantage the Vols had with their practice schedule based on when they started school while also worrying about them being so quiet on their depth chart. It’s almost as if Holgorsen is preparing for a loss despite him also saying this team is way more mature than those in years past.
Could he have built in enough excuses for his players that they think they will lose? Will Pruitt’s players not have enough confidence yet, especially with a new head coach, to even take advantage of such a potential issue? Both coaches bring distractions, even if Holgorsen created his own. So how players respond will be a big factor in the game.