Tennessee football struggled severely in Jeremy Pruitt’s first game. The Volunteers lost 40-14 to the West Virginia Mountaineers.
It was an ugly start for Tennessee football…and an ugly finish. The Vols couldn’t move the ball at all on the ground and struggled on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The result was a clear blowout, which became clear in the second half.
The West Virginia Mountaineers jumped out to an early lead 10-0, but Tennessee responded and cut it to 10-7, converting on a fourth down pass from Jarrett Guarantano to Dominick Wood-Anderson. WVU then converted on a late field goal heading into halftime to go up 13-7.
After a weather delay, West Virginia broke the game open in the second half. They scored touchdowns on their first three offensive possessions in the second half, while the Vols could only score one touchdown. The result was a 33-14 lead.
Tennessee football threatened with a comeback after recovering a WVU fumble and driving into the red zone. However, they couldn’t convert. West Virginia took the next drive and scored a touchdown to score again and make it 40-14.
Jarrett Guarantano started the game for the Vols and went 19-of-25 with 172 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, Tim Jordan had 20 carries for 118 yards, and Marquez Callaway led the team in receiving with seven receptions for 85 yards.
The Vols gave up 547 yards overall and only gained 301 yards. They forced one turnover and committed none themselves. But Dana Holgorsen’s air raid offense was too much for Tennessee football to overcome.
This was always going to be a tough challenge for Jeremy Pruitt. Installing a 3-4 defense was too tough to do when opening against the air raid. Meanwhile, the transition to the pro-style offense was too difficult for the offensive line on the interior.
Next up for the Vols is their home opener against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers. That’s the start of a three-game home stand followed by the UTEP Miners and the Florida Gators. Starting with Florida, the gauntlet of their SEC schedule begins. But for now, they’re 0-1 after facing a Top 25 season to start Pruitt’s era.