4. Randy Sanders is familiar with Jeremy Pruitt.
There were plenty of reasons to criticize Randy Sanders when he was Tennessee football’s offensive coordinator. He never developed go-to receivers after Donte Stallworth and Kelley Washington, quarterbacks never progressed after their freshman seasons, and the offensive line got progressively worse in run blocking.
However, Sanders did understand balance. And after working for Rich Brooks, Joker Phillips and Jimbo Fisher, he’s clearly a better coach than he once was. Finally, Sanders is familiar with what Jeremy Pruitt wants to do defensively.
Remember, Pruitt’s first year as a defensive coordinator was with the 2013 national champion Florida State Seminoles. Sanders was co-offensive coordinator of that team. So they went against each other everyday in practice.
Now, to be fair, that means Pruitt is as familiar with Sanders. But in terms of leveling the playing field, the team with the lesser talent has a better chance to do that when the coaches are indeed familiar with each other.
You know Sanders will be the one to pull out the tricks, and Pruitt will have to guess what those tricks are. By tricks, we mean switching things up early from what would be expected. Pruitt, meanwhile, would just rely on his talent this game.
As a result, ETSU may be able to catch the Vols napping early. A couple of coaching moves by Sanders that does that could then bring up the previous factor, their psychological edge. And all of a sudden, we’ve got a ballgame.