Coming off a win over Mississippi State, Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt allowed for a moment of levity during his Monday press conference.
The Vols, now 2-4 on the year, will travel to Tuscaloosa to play No. 1 Alabama on Saturday night and will be without one of their better players, freshman linebacker Henry To’o To’o, for the first half. To’o To’o, who is second on the team with 34 tackles, was ejected from the MSU game for targeting. And because the foul occurred in the second half, To’o To’o will be unavailable until the second half against the Crimson Tide.
That’s a tough loss for the Vols’ defense, especially going up against the high-powered Alabama offense. With To’o To’o out, Pruitt was asked if the coaching staff is going to have to get creative to limit some of Alabama’s success.
Pruitt, completely straight-faced, joked that UT might have to just go ahead and attempt an onside kick on every kickoff like Pulaski Academy, a high school team from Arkansas that never punts and never kicks it deep.
Here’s how the exchange went down (or fast forward to 20:20 here)
Reporter: “Jeremy, I’m sure you have no intention of giving us your game plan for this week, but with Henry out for a bit there, how many options are there at that spot and how creative do y’all have to get? Is there anything left in the cupboard to throw out there?”
Pruitt: “You know there’s a high school team over in Arkansas. They always onside kick. They never punt. I’ve never seen them play. I always hear people talk about it. I think they played one of the high school teams here in our state this year. Somebody was talking about it. So we’ve really kind of considered that as our game plan — just don’t give them the ball. You know, if we can do that. I don’t know.”
Early betting lines have Alabama as a 35-point favorite over UT, so perhaps those onside kicks would be the only way Tennessee could have a chance to upset the Tide, a team Pruitt said has to “work really hard” to not score 100 points every game.
The Tide are currently putting up 51 points per game, good for second in the country behind LSU (52.5).
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