UT Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee football team has just one more practice before Saturday’s DISH Orange and White Game. The Vols wrapped up their 13th practice of the spring season on Tuesday in full pads at Haslam Field and will have one more session Thursday in helmets.
UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt said he hopes to get 80 plays in the game for the offense and defense and he will announce to the team what squad they are on following practice on Thursday.
The first-year head coach hopes to receive assistance from the fans to create an electric, game-like atmosphere inside Neyland Stadium.
“We have an opportunity, and when I got the job, one of the first things we talked about was, it’s going to take everybody to get Tennessee football back to the way it’s supposed to be,” Pruitt said, reflecting on his introductory press conference in December. “When I say everybody, I mean everybody. So, everybody that considers themselves a Tennessee fan, it’s going to take us all, and the first way to demonstrate that is showing up for the spring game. The passion for it. So, I expect our fan base to be there. We need it as a football team, we need it as a football program. Obviously, it helps in recruiting, when you look and you see 102,000 people for a spring game, that sends a message to recruits about how important spring football is at Tennessee, and how much football is important in general.”
After two closed scrimmages, Pruitt also wants to see how players respond to the pressure of a packed stadium with fans cheering.
“It also gives our guys a chance to compete and an electric atmosphere which is important for us to give a good evaluation of them,” he said. “We’ve had two chances for scrimmages to get a look at them. There may be some guys that have gotten better each time, and hey, maybe they won’t if there’s that many people in the stands. I think it gives them an opportunity to prepare for the environment they’ll see in the fall.”
More Explosive Plays in Last Saturday’s Scrimmage
Pruitt said he saw more explosive plays from the offense during last Saturday night’s scrimmage that lasted 143 plays in Neyland Stadium.
Most of the scrimmage featured the 1s going against 1s and the 2s facing the 2s.
“One good thing, just looking at the scrimmage, I felt like offensively we created a few more explosive plays,” Pruitt said. “One thing that we’ve got to improve on is we have to finish some plays, finish some opportunities that we had. Again, I thought our running backs competed well with the ball in their hands, and I thought they blocked well, so that was good to see. We protected the quarterback and gave both of them a little bit of a chance to have some success.”
Pruitt added that the defense needs to improve on creating turnovers.
Get Your Official Fan Shirt This Weekend
This year’s DISH Orange and White Game will be the first public look at Pruitt’s program. The event, on April 21, will feature a live game at 2 p.m., using standard scoring and rules, and several other new fan-friendly promotions. Pruitt hopes fans will treat the annual exhibition at Neyland Stadium like it’s a Saturday in the fall.
In addition to the live game where the first team offense will face the first team defense, Tennessee has several other promotions scheduled, including:
- 9:30 a.m. – Toyota Vol Village in Lot 9 opens, which includes give-aways, face painting, music, photos with Smokey and the spirit squad, food options, inflatable games, interactive areas and more.
- 12:30 p.m. – Gates Open
- The first 5,000 fans in Gates 10 and 21 will receive a free “Fan-dana” from Coca-Cola.
- 12:55 p.m. – The Vol Walk
- 2 p.m. – Kickoff
The game will also be the first opportunity for fans get the “official fan shirt” for the 2018 season.