The Tennessee Volunteers have been decimated by contact tracing over the course of the last few weeks of fall practice. Heading into Saturday's contest, the Vols were almost at full strength from a numbers stand-point, but many had received little practice. Despite that, Tennessee was still able to edge out South Carolina for a 31-27.
Contact tracing and COVID-19 outbreaks will be an ongoing concern for the remainder of the season, and Jeremy Pruitt addresses where his team stands heading into week two.
"No, we have a lot of confidence in our players. I guess maybe because of a spike because of the students coming back in August, we had a lot of guys out. It's hard to get good at football if you don't practice. It's hard to get good chemistry with the team if you don't practice," Pruitt told media over a Zoom call on Monday.
He would continue, "With the exception of the guys that didn't travel, Jaylen McCollough and Warren Burrell, we had almost everybody there. Hopefully we can continue that this week and create some momentum and chemistry. All these phases, from the first game to the second game, is usually when you improve the most. We have lots of areas that we need to improve on."
Darel Middleton and Shawn Shamburger were two of the players who would have traveled, but did not for various reasons.
Pruitt also updated their status: ""We talked about last week from a standpoint of COVID and everything going on, I just don't think its fair to the players to put out exactly why they're not there. Hopefully, if everything works out, we can get these guys back very soon."