Russo's Recap: Vols ' season struggles persist as reality check sets in

By  | 

Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Saturday’s season finale was a microcosm of this entire first season for Jeremy Pruitt. Some good, some not so good, and in the end a whole lot of frustration.

Maybe the most frustrating part is that the segment of Vol Nation that goes way back with their program, a group that remembers this Vanderbilt team being called the doormats of the SEC, are shaking their heads as to how far this series and this Tennessee program has come or to be more exact, has digressed.

Saturday’s win was the third straight for Vandy over their in-state rivals. Folks, that’s the first time that’s happened since 1926. Yes, if you could see me right now, I’m shaking my head. Just as I was doing early on during this late November clash in Nashville.

It seemed to as if the Vols didn’t want to be there. Tennessee certainly didn’t have it’s A-game early in struggling once again on both sides of the ball. A carry over from the Missouri game? I don’t think so. To me, the guys just looked as if they didn’t have their hearts in to it.

Now, whatever coach Pruitt said at the half seemed to work initially with UT scoring on it’s first possession. And the defense seemed to improve as the game progressed, but there was no stopping Kyle Shurmur whose final game at home was a memorable one, 31 of 35 for 367 yards and 3 touchdown passes. Meanwhile, the results not as good for Shurmur’s counterpart, Jarrett Guarantano, who was harassed the entire game. In fact, in my opinion, beefing up that offensive line will be priority one.

The loss to Vandy is certainly another reality check for this young Tennessee squad. The Vols close out their first season under Jeremy Pruitt at 5-7, 2-5 in the SEC. Of course that's two more wins in conference play than last year but certainly not
even close to where this program wants to be! There's a lot of work to do in a hurry and that work now begins with bringing in the best possible recruiting class in 2019.