KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- So as the dust settled at the Swamp in Florida, it became painfully obvious that the Vols still have much work to do to be able to compete at a high level in the Southeastern Conference.
Tennessee’s mixture of youth and veteran players has yet to provide the right combination of competitiveness on game day. Missed opportunities and mistakes have been a theme for this group of Vols , who to their credit, have not flinched when it comes to going back to work and trying fro get better. That is once again the battle cry with an off date now next Saturday says senior receiver Marquez Callaway, "We want to do what we can individually to win but once we realize it's gonna take us as a team to get it together getting eachother pumped up and ready so when the time comes we can make a play."
Among those also looking to improve is All American lineman Trey Smith who says every week he’s getting more comfortable and that his relationship with the other offensive linemen certainly does help that cause. What it doesn’t help is the execution out on the field and the aggressiveness by which he plays this game! Smith says, "A lot of times in the run game that relies on me and at the end of the day if my guy makes a play that means I'm not doing my job. I think a lot of times the run game especially with myself I've gotta get more movement a lot dirtier a lot more violent a lot more nasty."
Playing in his first full game since having a knee procedure, Linebacker Daniel Bituli looked every bit the part of a Senior leader, and while his unit continues to improve, he says there’s still so much work to be done says Bituli, "All these things can be cleaned up and fixed, we've just got to go in and especially with the bye week we have a good amount of time to clean up on the mistakes we made today so I'm looking forward to it."
Coach Pruitt added, "I felt like last year in our bye week we really improved as a football team and we've got so many guys that are itching to play that but they're not hardly ready and we've got some other guys that are a little bit older that they need to mature and learn how to play to."
Another question mark going into the bye week and probably the talk for the next couple weeks will be Tennessee’s quarterback situation with Brian Maurer spelling Jarrett Guarantano in the loss to Florida. Maurer certainly brought some energy to the game which his teammates did recognize according to senior center Brandon Kennedy,
"He came in very energized and we got some snaps before the second half so we made some adjustments, one thing have to do is to be able to take the corrections we make during the game and then go back out onto the field and execute and if we can do that then we can be successful."
As for that quarterback position, coach Pruitt says, “There’s always competition at every position. and this team must develop depth.”
The process continues for the Vols who host 3rd ranked Georgia on Oct. 5th.