Tennessee football: 4 areas to focus on during bye week

After Tennessee lost last week to Alabama, which marked the third consecutive loss of the season, the Vols finally have a chance to breathe. The struggling team is well into its bye week. During this time, head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his team must find a way to stop the losing streak and turn the season around for Tennessee football.

Pruitt’s record after bye weeks is 2-1, but you have to remember it is only his third year with the program. Let’s not think too much into it. The past is in the past, right? Well, let’s hope that’s the mindset Tennessee has moving forward.

Speaking of moving forward, here are four areas the Volunteers need to focus on in its off week.

Tennessee football

Pruitt received some backlash from a remark he made during ‘Vol Calls’ this Wednesday.

“We’ve got to go back and practice like it’s fall camp,” Pruitt said. “Somebody asked me earlier, how much have we worked on Arkansas? We’ve worked very little on Arkansas if any. We’re working on Tennessee. We’ve got to fix us before we start worrying about somebody else.”

I don’t see anything wrong with what he had said. I actually agree with him. The Vols need to focus on Tennessee football and get back to the basics. I don’t see any way Tennessee can successfully enter the back half of its season without directly ironing out the team’s wrinkles first.

The offense

Heading into the 2020 season, Tennessee’s offensive line was considered one of the best in the SEC. Unfortunately for the Vols, the offensive line hasn’t been playing up to that standard. The O-line is underperforming since the Missouri game, and offensive line coach Will Friend needs to address this quickly. The offense also needs to talk about getting the ball to the guys who perform well, not isolate them after a good play. What I mean by this is when Jalin Hyatt has a great game, keep throwing the ball to him. There is such a lack of trust within the Vols offense, and it starts with the quarterback.

The quarterback position

The quarterback position is too inconsistent for Tennessee right now. Plain and simple. Pruitt has no choice but to make a final decision on who will be behind the ball. If Pruitt believes Jarrett Guarantano is the guy for the job, he better get the other coaching staff members to think that as well. Because the fact of the matter is this, there is an immense lack of trust in Guarantano’s ability to throw the ball. How can a team wins games if the quarterback can’t throw the ball? The answer is simple. The team won’t win.

The defense

Tennessee’s defense has been in the hot seat for the past couple of weeks, especially after Pruitt fired the defensive line coach.

But again, the past is in the past.

Now, I can go on and on about how the defense has tackling issues, penalties problems and lack of communication, but I will save you the troubles from reading all that. The Vols defense’s biggest issue right now is the secondary. Yes, believe it or not, the secondary that everyone raved about this offseason is not performing well.

Don’t worry, though, because Pruitt addressed the issues of the secondary this week on a Zoom conference.

“I think one of the big things is it’s pretty evident for these guys how important practice is, and unfortunately for a lot of those guys we kind of got hit pretty hard in that area during fall camp,” Pruitt said. “When you miss practice time there, you’ve got to be really sharp in preparation, and I think moving forward our guys, they’ll continue to improve back there with their communication.”

I am holding out hope and have my fingers crossed the Volunteers will take advantage of the bye week, make changes and have a solid back half of the season.