Gameday on Rocky Top Podcast

Gameday on Rocky Top Podcast – Episode 145 – Receivers, corners, early standouts in fall practice



Is Joel being paranoid about the receiving corps, or might they be vulnerable to depth concerns?

Which new guy is Will most looking forward to seeing this fall?

Is Joel crazy to admit that he’s starting to feel better about the cornerback position?

How much should we embrace the expectation that the new coaching staff will help the team better realize its potential than the last?

Where does Tennessee’s opener against West Virginia rank as an opening tone-setter?




Joel Hollingsworth: [00:00:15] This is the Gameday on Rocky Top Podcast. I’m Joel Hollingsworth and I’m here with Will Shelton. How are you doing tonight, Will?


Will Shelton: [00:00:22] I’m doing great. I heard that you guys suspended me for selling my shoes and I was curious as to which pair of new balance cross trainers that were you know so highly sought after that everyone wanted but other than that I’m doing great.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:00:33] New Balance has this very lucrative 10000 dollar deal with Tennessee now.


Will Shelton: [00:00:39] Right. Ten thousand dollar deal.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:00:42] Yeah.


Will Shelton: [00:00:43] That’s funny. I do have some orange and gray New Balance. But they were purchased before and the smoky Gray came in and out of fashion. So. That’s. Are they even, you’re still in the merchandise game, like are they Are they even making smoky grey stuff still. I know that’s the big rumor. That we’re not going to wear it in an official capacity anymore. They still make it. Cause I guess people to buy it. Right.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:01:06] Yeah. You know I think they probably will this year. I haven’t seen the fall stuff from the Coliseum yet but you know that stuff is ordered and made and designed a long time in advance so


Will Shelton: [00:01:21] Right.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:01:21] They probably are are you know upset because they probably made all the grey stuff they made everybody preorder it and now they’re not going to wear it at all. But you know it’s kind of like the black stuff even when the school decided not to ever wear black again. The fans still liked it and still wanted it. So I don’t see grey going away. It’s a nice little color combination. Even if the team doesn’t wear it but


Will Shelton: [00:01:51] I wonder


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:01:51] Some


Will Shelton: [00:01:51] How much of that was Fulmer too right because you know maybe it’s just with football but it is Fulmer or are these other you know isn’t going to have a passionate thing of softball should not wear smoky gray or is it just going to be football. I don’t know. I’ve got plenty of it in my closet too so I understand.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:02:09] Yeah I don’t know. You know the first question I was going to ask you is whether or not your rage has had subsided after last night’s Braves Game.


Will Shelton: [00:02:17] Well yes mostly. First of all Acuña not hurt you. I don’t think he caught Brad live when that was happening. Right. Because there’s just it was the most upset about something that happed in baseball in years years which is a good sign that the Braves were that good. But I mean I cannot imagine a worse set of circumstances where you have the pitcher for a 48 and 74 team hits a guy with a five game homerun streak just because he doesn’t want to get him out or whatever so but yeah Acuna is fine and healthy and currently in the lineup tonight and you know they only suspended the guy six games which is not a that’s not enough to prevent some sort of blowback because the Braves and Marlins play again next week. But


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:03:09] Well and pitchers


Will Shelton: [00:03:09] Yet


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:03:09] Don’t even play every game right. I mean they only play every


Will Shelton: [00:03:12] So


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:03:12] Six games anyway.


Will Shelton: [00:03:13] Yeah. So you pushback a start day and so I would not advise him pitching it gives the Atlanta Braves next week though if he values his health that might leave him on the side. So yeah the Braves or the Braves are up 3 2 right now. On the Rockies. So yes I am. My wife is the biggest St. Louis Card . . . like her whole family is. They love the Cardinals more than I love the Braves. They love the Cardinals like I love the Vols. And. Even she was. We. Have Acuna jersey for our son Because my


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:03:48] I


Will Shelton: [00:03:48] Wife


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:03:48] Saw


Will Shelton: [00:03:48] And I


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:03:48] It


Will Shelton: [00:03:48] Went to. We lucked into Acuna’s home debut earlier this year. And when we were. My son wasn’t there because I was too young to appreciate it. But. We bought him a little jersey. Because we figured Acuña as you know. 20 years old and might actually still be with the Braves by the time Covington is old enough to know what’s what. So even even my St. Louis Cardinals wife put them in the Acuna Jersey today and sent it out a little shout out. So that’s when you know it’s bad when players on other teams even American League players that have nothing to do with the Braves or Marlins were like Yeah that’s nonsense. So six


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:04:23] Yeah.


Will Shelton: [00:04:23] Games that there will be additional retribution


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:04:26] Yeah. Whoever that picture is he made a lot of Braves fans last night because he made me want to go watch baseball too. So


Will Shelton: [00:04:31] Yeah.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:04:32] I’m looking forward to that. Anyway we got several things to get to tonight. Tonight is actually when we’re recording it will probably go live in the morning. So just ignore all my references to time or pretend that you’re Desmond from Lost and figure it out. So other things we’ll be talking about potential trouble may be brewing with the receiving corps or maybe that’s something I just made up. What I’m gonna ask Will about early standouts in fall practice and which ones he’s looking most looking forward to seeing this fall. I’m also going to ask him about when and how much it might be OK to embrace expectations of a new staff as compared to the prior staff because some players made a couple of interesting comments after practice today. And then if we have time when is it okay to maybe start feeling okay about the cornerbacks. So that’s kind of what I want to get to tonight. First though a public service announcement. If we are still crossposting the podcast feed to Talkshoe and soundcloud but Talkshoe is going to go away. If you subscribe by iTunes everything is going to happen behind the scenes.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:05:49] You don’t have to worry but if for some reason you are very fond of Talkshoe and get the podcast through that eventually you’re going to be lonely. Because we will start stop posting over there. You’re gonna have to make the trek over to soundcloud unless you’re okay with iTunes. Really the best way is just subscribe to iTunes everything be ok google play we’ll be over there eventually too. And also while you’re at it do us a favor give us a rating give us a good one give us a review. Give us a good one. Say something nice about Will. You get extra bonus points if you say something nice about Brad Because I know that’s harder. Sorry Brad. I know he probably won’t be listening this until like tomorrow he’s not here to defend himself so yeah probably right now he’s dialing my number so I’m not going to ignore my phone tomorrow. But anyway so let’s let’s get started. Okay so the receiving corps right. Did you hear the podcast from last night?


Will Shelton: [00:06:52] I read the transcript which is how I got in the robo version of you talking about me selling shoes. But so yes I did not I didn’t have a chance to listen to. And I did. I did read the transcripts


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:07:02] Okay so that’s about 75 percent accurate.


Will Shelton: [00:07:05] Right.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:07:06] Yeah. Okay so the main thing is that Jauan has been having a little bit of trouble and we need to hire me hyperextended something. And he had some drops and practice and he started getting frustrated so we were talking about that. And then today apparently Marquez Callaway has been held out with some sort of minor injury. Now you expect those things in the fall right. But starting to get just a little bit concerned about the receiving corps especially since I’m hoping I have time to post this in the morning before I get to skedaddle. But the thing I did for the defense last week which was you know I looked at what I believed to be Pruitt’s ideal roster. The numbers that he wants at each position and what he wants those guys to look like in terms of height and weight and then I compared it to the current roster and seemed okay mostly on defense and I was a little bit surprised though when I’ve done the offensive one to find that we’re low on wide receivers of the right size. There are a couple of guys that are just a little bit smaller than what you would like but as far as the size and shape of the guys that Pruitt wants were a little bit low on numbers especially if you’re having problems with Jennings and Callaway. So, am I just being paranoid or do you think there might be a like a real concern there?


Will Shelton: [00:08:40] You know I don’t know if if the concern is is I have no idea how real it is. But if it is real it’s very concerning if that makes sense. It’s not just taking away two guys that you feel like are your most proven playmakers on offense. These guys Callaway’s best stuff came with Quinten Dormady last year and Jennings did not play with Guarantano at all. So whoever is the quarterback is trying to establish rhythm with at least Jennings if not Jennings and Callaway in a way that they have not before and I think there is statistically anyway there’s a sense that there’s a drop off there. Brandon Johnson is not a not a outside number one receiver kind of guy. He’s a good option in the slot at least he was last year a good safety valve but I don’t think he’s going to be someone that steps in and replaces there and the other thing is we’ve talked about this this offseason. Tennessee spent so much time under Butch Jones throwing to the running back that I think we all kind of get used to that not just in the years when they had Alvin Kamara but with Rajion Neal at the very beginning. Tennessee’s third option in the passing game almost the entire time that Butch Jones was at Tennessee was a running back and Tyson Helton at USC and at Western Kentucky doesn’t do that.


Will Shelton: [00:10:01] Not only did he have true number three wide receivers. He had true number four wide receivers which is a concept that we haven’t had at Tennessee in really a long time. So there are a lot of guys if you’re talking about even one of Jennings or Callaway being slowed or held out of action there’s there’s a lot there’s some bodies in there but like you say the size and shape may not be exactly what the new coaching staff wants and some of those other guys catch some balls even if you get Dominick Wood-Anderson in there even if they do develop Ty Chandler or somebody else as a running back in the passing game. If if Tyson Helton is calling the sort of game that he has been calling or involved with calling for his entire career they’re going through a lot of wide receivers. So you know you want those guys out there. I have no idea what the level of seriousness or how really those things are but yeah Tennessee needs those guys and needs them to beat a team like West Virginia or to beat a team like Florida.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:11:03] They absolutely need those guys especially in that first game yeah. So 24/7 sports. Did this piece here yesterday was 15 hours ago right now so it’s behind the paywall but basically it’s just a couple of it’s a list of guys that they think have stood out this fall. It includes most of the people you think. Alontae Taylor here is name a lot. They included included Daniel Bituli, there’s Dominick Wood-Anderson Trevon Flowers, Jordan Murphy, Cedric Tillman is another one. Then they also had Tim Jordan and Alexis Johnson on the list but one of those guys or maybe if there’s a different one. Who are you most looking forward to seeing. Sort of for the first time or for the first time in a long time this fall


Will Shelton: [00:12:02] I think the answer would be Alontae Taylor if we weren’t opening with West Virginia. But that’s still really enjoy seeing Alontae Taylor but I’m not sure about that. I may not enjoy seeing him at all and we may just have to chalk that up to competition. But. Someone made the point on Twitter today one of the Beat writers made the point that it’s significant that they’re letting Dominick Wood-Anderson talk to the media today which shows you that that’s not just a random off season pickup. It’s going to get Tennessee some depth now. You know they’ve had


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:12:36] Well.


Will Shelton: [00:12:36] Eli Wolf has been around the program a long time. But


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:12:40] Well they’ve also had Lovinggood talk to the media. So it’s not necessarily an indication of stardom or playing time. Maybe


Will Shelton: [00:12:47] Again it might be our best player though.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:12:49] It could be


Will Shelton: [00:12:50] It if you know all positions being equal. He could bring the most value to his position.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:12:56] Also. No offense to Lovinggood, I love that dude.


Will Shelton: [00:12:58] Right right. So that’s along the lines of what I would say they took Eli Wolf to media days right. So it’s not a it’s not a one and done situation there at tight end I think but I think that somebody again when you’re talking about looking for something different in the passing game we’ve been fooled into thinking Tennessee is going to throw to the tight end plenty of times before but I think that’s just it seems like we thought when he was signed and still things are in a camp that he gives you a dynamic that Tennessee’s other tight ends may not be able to do as well in the passing game. So I think he’s the one that could stand out soonest for a positive reason as opposed to Alontae Taylor who because of the opponent in a season opener may stand out for a negative reason.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:13:45] All right. So let me jump to the last question then which was going to be about the cornerbacks and whether it’s OK to start feeling OK about them you know all season long. Even going back to signing day when they sort of whiffed on a couple of high stakes blue chip recruits at the position cornerback has sort of been the doom and gloom story for the offseason. It’s like all that’s going to be our biggest weakness. We just don’t have what we need there. But then as we talked about I guess on our first 2018 podcast a week ago we started hearing good things about Alontae Taylor started hearing good things about Bryce Thompson and the thing is Pruitt assuming he is a good coach and can teach his teaches guys his expertise is at that position and he’s been spending most of his time there. One of the stories that I read the other day was that he he tried to spend some time with a different unit but sort of gravity pulled him back to the cornerbacks you know and you know maybe it’s because West Virginia’s coming out maybe it’s just because that’s where he thinks he can do the best maybe he gave that to himself because he hired other guys to do the other units or whatever. But you know it could be that they’re in good hands. And you know again like I said last week it takes a while to figure a team out. And so if West Virginia goes into this game knowing hey we’re a great passing team these guys are weak at the cornerback and in the secondary generally we’re just going to throw and then they find out that hey Alontae Taylor can get interceptions or Bryce Thompson is not shabby either. I don’t know. I started feeling a little bit better about the cornerbacks. My question to you is am I crazy.


Will Shelton: [00:15:50] I don’t think it’s crazy. I think crazy would be if we hadn’t heard Alontae Taylor’s name a lot. Because really at this point that’s all you have to go on right is is who what names my hearing most often from the guys that are there covering the team every day you don’t get to see very much of practice at all but who have sources and are talking to those folks. You just kind of especially now when they’re not even releasing scrimmage stats or whatever you just have to keep listening. What names my hearing most often. And Taylor has been I think probably other than Guarantano probably I’ve heard his name the most. Would you agree with that.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:16:29] I


Will Shelton: [00:16:30] That


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:16:30] Would.


Will Shelton: [00:16:30] Sound about right.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:16:31] I would although I’ll also say that a couple of years ago the name we were hearing the most was Kahlil McKenzie


Will Shelton: [00:16:38] That’s fair. But sometimes you get there. I mean Derek Barnett you


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:16:41] Yeah


Will Shelton: [00:16:41] Know was


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:16:41] Yeah.


Will Shelton: [00:16:41] Was unblockable and turned out that was true. So


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:16:46] Yeah


Will Shelton: [00:16:47] You see I guess you get a little bit of both but I’m wary. Like with some guys it’s the devil you know. Like when I hear Oh Kongbo is giving good quotes or whatever. I’ve believed that before and not seen it with him whereas with Taylor I haven’t seen him so why not just assume the best. So no I don’t think it’s crazy. And again I think there is a possibility here where you go back to that first game. Eric Berry’s year that first game against Cal in 2007 he got torched defensively in a game but in part they got towards because those guys are going against DeSean Jackson and a really good Cal offense. And then two weeks later they went against Tebow. So you know as it turned out that particular year freshman Eric veri was pretty great. And you know they had some other really young guys that were playing in that secondary and they were still good enough to win the SEC East. They just didn’t look like it when they were playing elite competition the first two weeks of the season they are playing DeSean Jackson and the Heisman Trophy winner. So I think it’s OK to be excited. And I think it’s OK if West Virginia comes out and does what some will predict him to do which is throw for a whole bunch of yards and score a whole bunch of points. I think it’s OK to say hey it’s all downhill from here. You know he’s not going to have to cover if he is in fact Tennessee’s number one corner.


Will Shelton: [00:18:15] If they want to play a lot of man to man and they put him on David Sills then hey it’s probably the best it’s going to be it. Definitely the best it’ll be all year or the hardest it will be all year when you talk about a quarterback wide receiver combination. So you know. Yeah I think it’s OK to get excited just with the caveat of crazy would be expecting him to shut down West Virginia. Expect him to make plays and not get totally embarrassed. Maybe we’ll see. But yeah I think it’s just based on the volume of times we’ve heard his name in particular and the fact that there are there’s Baylen Buchannan there Shawn Shamburger or there’s some other guys. I worry at this point about guys whose names I’m not hearing. Like Marquill Osborne is is one of those guys MaLeik Gray is one of those guys where based on recruiting rankings you’re hopeful OK maybe this new staff can can flip the switch on these guys but I’m not here about Marquill Osborne or MaLeik Gray. So you know maybe the recruiting evaluation was wrong or it’s hard to say maybe they’re getting beat out by better players and the better players or Freshmen. But you know. So. What names are you hearing does cut both ways. But No I do not think that’s crazy. As long as we’re not expecting. Tennessee to come out and shut down West Virginia’s passing game


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:19:39] Speaking of the coaching staff flipping the switch Kongbo talked to the media today and he like you like you said a minute ago he’s been known for saying stuff in the offseason and you love it because he’s like so confident you know. But it seems like after a couple of years he may have been humbled a little bit and that’s probably not a bad thing. But one of the things he said and I don’t have the exact quote right in front of me were I’ll put it in the roundup tomorrow. It was basically that it’s night and day here between this fall and last fall with the coaching staff. Everything’s different. It’s you know intimating that it’s that much better right. So you know we talked about this when we were naming the magazine what is it that we’re excited about with with the coaching staff and maybe for this fall. And we’re basically pinning our hopes on the fact that these guys this group of guys Pruitt at the top all the rest of the staff know how to teach football to the talented players that we already have. And we just didn’t have that before. And I’m really not that interested in and you know just here are the 15 worst things that Butch Jones ever did you know. You know I want to look forward right. But part of part of the hope for this season is that these guys are going to fix something that just couldn’t get fixed last year. And so how much do you think we can really expect or should expect the new group of guys to flip that switch. Like you mentioned and take some of our unrealized potential and actually turn it into something that we’ve been hoping to see for years now.


Will Shelton: [00:21:43] I think on some level you have to do with a case by case basis. Right. I mean that whole group of guys that Butch Jones recruited that were highly sought after but have not it has not manifested itself the way we thought it would just yet. Drew Richmond, Kongbo. Kyle Phillips I feel like


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:22:02] Yep


Will Shelton: [00:22:02] It’s already you know that guy was great in the spring I feel like we’re already assuming he’s going to get there. But Kyle Phillips is certainly one of those guys and there are others like him and Marquill Osborne is a big. MaLeik Grey is still young enough that you know there may be something there. And Guarantano certainly. So there’s all those guys some of those guys will be better with this coaching staff were this position coach like Guarantno. I mean it’s hard to imagine him not being better with an actual quarterback coach and offensive line that doesn’t have converted tight ends on it. But You know I think at some point I think it’s comforting to hear it was comforting to me here. Even I said that earlier about not having bought into Kongbo before when we as fans think a certain thing and then you hear the players. Say a version of that thing. Which is Quote unquote these are actual football players not quote unquote that Kongbo said that but in general these are actual football coaches as opposed to good recruiters and cliche men and whatever that is. Yeah it helps out the idea that OK yeah we this is the right line of thinking about Pruitt and these guys. And yeah Tennessee can be better.


Will Shelton: [00:23:22] Tennessee can be more. The flipside of that coin is for all Butch Jones faults, he had coached a football team for six years before he came here. And Jeremy Pruitt has not done that at all as the head coach. So there’s a whole slew of things that Butch Jones just inherently knew how to do when he came here because he’d been a head coach for six years. That Pruit will be will be learning on the fly. So I don’t know that those things I don’t know that those things are going to be the difference between a win and a loss early in the year. But you know I think it’s that’s the that’s the narrative that we want to believe in and there’s enough both coaches did enough good Butch in recruiting and Pruitt with his background that you know it’s there is a path for this team to win seven games or so I think that’s not out of the question. If you do have that switch flipped and if Tennessee stays healthy and the talent that Butch brought in here now can kind of manifest and grow up. But I also think I keep going back to Kiffin where when I hear people making the comparison with Pruitt and these guys to Kiffin and those guys oh you know these are actual football coaches and whatever Kiffin was horrible in the UCLA game.


Will Shelton: [00:24:43] Second time out I mean and he was the head coach of the NFL and that was a horrendously coached and called game that Tennessee Lost to a really bad UCLA team at home. So you know they got it figured out eventually that year but they had some really early bumps in the road. So I don’t know. I’m curious to see but I think it’s I think it’s good to see the narrative that we have kind of bought into as fans to hear that repeated back to us by players. That’s great. We’ll you know we’ll need to see and we’ll need to see not West Virginia but we need to see Florida. We need to see South Carolina Missouri we need to see games that Tennessee has a legitimate chance to win and see how Tennessee performs in those kinds of games. I think to see where we’re at but as I’ve written too and said all summer like Butch Jones taught me that like every play matters evaluate every play. Think about how is this team learning and growing on every play. And that somewhere I think you can you can begin to see it even in the West Virginia game I guess.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:25:50] That’s a really interesting comparison between if you going to put two things on a scale you put six years of head coaching experience at Cincinnati against two years as defensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama which is which is better preparation for a head coaching job at Tennessee because I think there’s an argument to be made for either one of those especially when you consider that you know it’s not just two years under Nick Saban in Alabama but also his time at Georgia. His time at Florida State. Just knowing a system because it seemed like maybe the Butch Jones knew how sort of you know to meet with the media and to talk to the media and stuff but maybe he’d never been exposed to the practice slash program blueprint that is fully operational in Tuscaloosa you know. So I don’t I think he he might be just as prepared as Butch Jones was to be a head coach at Tennessee although the thing that really scares me is that everybody on the staff has moved up one level from where they were.


Will Shelton: [00:27:08] Right. Right.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:27:09] And if you’re talking Peter Principle you know how many of those guys are not going to be able to survive that extra level. I don’t know. That’s that’s kind of frightening. I hope it doesn’t ever end up there. But if things start falling apart it’s the first place I’m going to start looking and that’s probably the first thing you’re going to hear me saying. But I hope I don’t ever want to say it.


Will Shelton: [00:27:36] Yeah. I have a couple concerns there. One my concern for that really isn’t even this year because I think regardless of the truth of that statement that you know it’s Pruitt got the big job and so he went out and gave a lot of other guys the next job up the ladder. I don’t worry about that showing up this year. I worry about next year and the year after that if we need better coaches than a bunch of guys that he knew. And it’s not the same as Butch we got a whole staff over from Cincinnati. But you know he hired guys that he knew it’s generally. That’s what I would do too. You know as you hire guys that you know and guys you think you’re going to do a good job and help you win. But if it turns out I’m just throwing this name out there I have no reason to think you want there great job but like if two years from now it turns out that will friend is not the answer it is the offensive line coach is like how fast will Pruitt see that. I don’t think that’s going to show up this year. I worry about these guys all of them collectively are they good enough recruiters and coaches to get us to 10 wins. And that is not going to show itself this year. I think the other thing to in terms of you know what’s the better preparation for the Tennessee job is it three years at Central Michigan and three years Cincinnati or working as a defensive coordinator at Alabama and Georgia and Florida State.


Will Shelton: [00:29:05] My concern is someone made this comment on the 10 questions for 2010. 2018 the last post that I wrote About that we will learn most about Prewett this year is how he handles adversity and there’s some probably some real truth in that Tennesse almost certainly who’s going to lose more games this year than he has lost. You know since he was a player at Alabama. I don’t know. We’re going back aways there. And even then I mean he played on a played on mid 90s Alabama teams which were on the decline but not all the way. Because I don’t think he was on like that ninety seven 98 Alabama teams. That’s it. But anyway I know he’s going to lose more than he’s lost in a while. How does he handle that. Here again Derek Dooley Saban assistant not not a coordinator. It’s interesting I read Bill Connelley’s Missouri preview and he points out that there Dooley has had all of these jobs but he’s never been a coordinator like he’s been the head coach. He’s been the head coach at an SEC program. He’s been a position coach in the NFL but he’s never been a coordinator. It’s a weird sort of thing.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:30:18] That is


Will Shelton: [00:30:19] But Dooley when he came here position coach on Saban’s staff head coach experience at a smaller school. But that guy from the first the first time adversity struck against Oregon in the second game. He didn’t handle it well. He correctly pointed out that his team folded when things got hard. But then like he never helped them unfold themselves. You know like he he was perfect at identifying the problem but totally unhelpful at at providing a solution. So. When we struggle this year Or when we get blown out or something like that how is how is Pruitt going to handle that. You know Butch had some experience getting blown out when you coached in central Michigan you get blown out when you play Michigan State and those teams I know he beat one of them once. But I think he had experience with that. It’s just it cost him not having the cultural experience Of a power 5 program and we got fooled everybody everybody’s question when Butch was hired was can he recruit to Tennessee and turned to the level we need to win. And turns out the answer was yes. And then we just assumed that also meant he could develop that same talent and that answer was No. But you know. Pruitt won’t have the problem of. Not understanding the expectations or or not understanding not thinking that in the nine and 4 champions of life it was a good year with a team that had a chance to be so much more than that.


Will Shelton: [00:31:54] So I don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see you know Pruitt like anybody else who’s going to do some things well he’s going to do some things not so well. And as we have said about many a coach especially the ones that have not worked out at Tennessee which has been all of them the last 10 years. It’s not even your mistakes. It’s do you have the ability to evolve. Can you grow can you identify flaws in the system and then seek to correct them. Can you identify those flaws when those flaws are you the assistant coaches that you brought here in the first place and maybe you need to go in a different direction. And and you know Butch Jones did that when he brought in Shoop but then can you also understand that when you go in a different direction it needs to be a good fit. Just a lot of a lot of learning on the fly and that that’ll be true for Pruitt just as much as it was for Butch Jones I just think it will be in very different ways. But hey you know you look at it would do us some good probably to pull the quotes from Kirby Smart’s first year and to see you know the rumblings of this guy’s not happy and is he a good fit here and he’s so different than Richt.


Will Shelton: [00:33:05] And you know we gave away a coach that won all these games and turns out Kirby Smart was just fine. And and you know knows exactly what he’s doing. But that first year and his first time being a head coach I don’t know how often it felt that way for those guys in the middle of what I think was a seven and five season. But other thing too I know we’re jumping all over the place here. Big things for Kirby Smart. He won that first game. You know a beat North Carolina in that opener in I guess the Georgia Dome in its final season. And that was big that was big for Georgia fans looking. To. Believe when you beat North Carolina in the opener. It helps you deal with losing to Vanderbilt later in the year. So. You know you got to you’ve got to You’ve got to win some of those those North Carolina type of games that the Games Kiffin won against Georgia and South Carolina. You know Pruitt needs to get one of those in there that. Will help. Certainly will help him Tennessee. Lose somewhere along the way to


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:34:00] Well we’re out of time but quickly. Are you working on something for the morning.


Will Shelton: [00:34:06] Yeah I went back and polled. Thanks again to the folks that do Tennessee’s media guy they do a great job every year this game against West Virginia who is ranked 20th in the coaches poll is the 13th time that Tennessee is playing a ranked nonconference foe in the season opener. But more than just looking for the ranked nonconference I was just trying to get a sense of where we rate this opener kind of as a tone setter. You know it doesn’t have the 10 out of 10. We’ve seen some of those games where like NC State a couple of years ago it was like if Dooley can’t win this game. You know he’s never going to win here or the Cal game and 2006 where it felt like we didn’t know how the program was going to go. So it’s not that I don’t think it’s it’s like last year’s Georgia Tech game where there’s some preexisting anxiety that that will instantly come into play the first time something goes wrong. But it’s also you know it’s it’s your first impression for a new coach. So just kind of historically going back over the last couple decades and saying when Tennessee has played these these kinds of season openers even a Utah state I think that’s an underrated Butch Jones game that season opener the second year when they still went with Justin Worley. It was a Sunday night game and Chuckie Keaton and all that stuff. Tennessee played really well in that game you know and that that was a big kind of tone setter at the time I think to. To feel like OK this you know things are things are going to go all right here. But we. I didn’t feel that way before kickoff. You know I was not expecting Tennessee to win by 31 or whatever they won by I thought that was going to be a real close game. So. Just just trying to. Where do we rank this West Virginia game in the context of all those. Is. something I’m working on for tomorrow.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:35:58] All right. Look for that in the morning. Also look for Will on sports 180 with Josh Ward and Will West tomorrow at one thirty. I think it usually is right


Will Shelton: [00:36:11] Yup yup


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:36:12] One thirty. He’s on there every week with them. Always good stuff and do us a favor and subscribe to the show via iTunes or soundcloud. Just go to iTunes and search for the Gameday on Rocky Top Podcast. If you’re feeling particularly charitable you can leave a rating or a review. We will greatly appreciate it. And that’ll do it for tonight’s show for Will Shelton. I’m Joel Hollingsworth and this has been the Gameday on Rocky Top podcast.


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:36:47] podcast last night that Sean Ellis the John Ward


Will Shelton: [00:36:51] He


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:36:51] Call


Will Shelton: [00:36:51] Made


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:36:51] For


Will Shelton: [00:36:51] It


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:36:51] That that is the best call. I love that he made it.


Will Shelton: [00:36:57] In that same game when they stopped when we stopped a on 4th and goal the one and he just goes. No no no no no no no


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:37:09] Well do you have anything you want to sing before I stop recording.


Will Shelton: [00:37:13] No. I do not. I’m not sure my wife is still awake or not. Maybe maybe some other time we can get Alex to do it non bread interview. SIR


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:37:22] Well that wouldn’t be funny though that would just be good. But I guess we


Will Shelton: [00:37:25] It


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:37:25] Can


Will Shelton: [00:37:25] Wasn’t


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:37:25] Do


Will Shelton: [00:37:25] Bad


Joel Hollingsworth: [00:37:25] Good.


Will Shelton: [00:37:25] Brad’s was better than I thought it was. He’s done some karaoke in his life. I guarantee you.


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