Tennessee's Jeremy Pruitt: "This is probably the best Alabama offense that I’ve ever seen"
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tennessee football coach had a lot to say about No. 2 Alabama’s offense as both teams prepare to face each other on the gridiron this Saturday.
During the SEC’s weekly coaches teleconference on Wednesday morning, Pruitt said that the Crimson Tide’s offense is quite possibly the greatest that he has ever seen.
“Well I think through the first four games this is probably the best Alabama offense that I’ve ever seen since I’ve been alive,” Pruitt said. “They spread you out all over the field, they run the ball when they want to, they create explosive plays, lots of dynamic playmakers. They spread it around and make very little mistakes so it’ll be a huge challenge for us.
“They’ve been really good offensively for several years but through four games from efficiency, explosive plays, scoring I would have to say that they’re playing as good as any I’ve ever seen.”
So far this season Alabama has proven themselves to be one of the top offensive threats in the country. Quarterback Mac Jones and running back Najee Harris provide a deadly one-two combo in both the air and on the ground while wide receivers DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and John Metchie along with tight end Miller Forristall provide consistent targets for explosive plays. Combine that with a solid offensive line that has made few errors so far this season, and you have an offense that’s tough to handle.
Tennessee’s defense is no pushover, though. The Crimson Tide’s offense is known for its explosive plays but so far this season the Volunteers have handled that well against its opponents, despite its 2-2 record. In fact, the longest-scoring play of the season so far was just a 29-yard connection from South Carolina’s Collin Hill to Shi Smith.
Showing his work as a former defensive coordinator, Pruitt broke down Alabama’s offense and why it poses a larger threat than the previous four opponents that his Tennessee team has faced so far.
“You know when you look at Alabama, first to me it starts offensively,” Pruitt said. “When you talk about the efficiency of the quarterback play, I think Mac Jones is doing a fantastic job. Understands the offense, getting the ball out of his hand, giving him the right plays. They got lots of playmakers at wide receiver, at running back, at tight end. But I’m not so sure that the strength of their offensive team is not their offensive line. Probably the best offensive line that I’ve seen in a long, long time. They’re physical, they seldom make mistakes, very efficient in the run game, score touchdowns, explosive. Defensively, they play a lot of tight coverage in the back end. Lots of different looks. Guys that can create negative plays up front. They have some experience back at very important positions and you can see that and they’ve improved as the season has went. Special teams, they obviously have lots of speed on their team and got really good returners so it’ll be a tremendous challenge for us.
“I feel like our guys have responded with two really good practices this week. We got a couple more to go and we need to continue to work hard to improve.”
Pruitt served under Alabama head coach Nick Saban as a defensive coach from 2007-2012 before leaving to fulfill the same duties at Florida State and Georgia. He then returned in 2016 and served as Saban’s defensive coordinator until the end of the 2017 season.
In all of his time under Saban, Pruitt cites time management as what he learned most from his former boss.
“Well I obviously worked for him for eight years and several different capacities,” Pruitt said. “And having an opportunity to do that I probably worked in every level of the program from the academics to the weight room to player development — position coach, defensive coordinator — so a lot of time with him. The one thing I think coach does an outstanding job in is he’s very efficient with his time. In watching him as a head coach and being involved in everything in the program from nutrition to academics to the daily schedules to just managing everybody in the building he’s very efficient with his time.
“As a head coach that’s probably the most important thing that I was able to experience, watch and take from him.”
Alabama at Tennessee takes place this Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville (2:30 p.m. CT, CBS).