KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jeremy Pruitt’s first Vol Walk didn’t disappoint. Thousands of fans created the familiar orange “T” extending from the corner of Phillip Fulmer Way and Peyton Manning Pass as Pruitt and his Tennessee Volunteers walked into Neyland Stadium to conclude their spring session.
“I thought it was great,” the first-year coach said. “I thought the Vol Walk was spectacular.”
What he didn’t think was spectacular: A lopsided 34-7 spring game that was particularly rough on the defensive side.
“I saw a couple of guys out there [Saturday] just flat out quit,” Pruitt said. “Call it what you want to. I’m going to say they quit. That’s what I saw.”
The former Alabama and Georgia defensive coordinator pointed to a 134-14 disparity in rushing yards as an indicator of disappointing effort.
“Is one team that much better than the other one?” Pruitt said. “I don’t think so. I’ve watched them practice for 14 days. … But there were some guys that went out there and competed and tried to do the best of their abilities, and we had some guys, that’s not what they did.”
An announced crowd of 65,098 took in the action. Pruitt seemed content with the number, but called out the Vols fans who failed to show up at Neyland without a valid excuse.
“It’s kind of like our football team, for the fans,” Pruitt said. “The ones that were here, I’m proud they were here. They’re fired up. They’re ready to get going. OK? And then there were some people that weren’t who that had legitimate reasons. They couldn’t be here. And there were some people that weren’t here, that … why weren’t they here? It’s kind of like our football team. I think we all need to look in the mirror and see who we want to be.”