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After UK fiasco, Vols need serious soul searching

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At a certain point, uncharacteristic mistakes become characteristic.

It's time to accept what the Jeremy Pruitt coaching staff is.

The Volunteers, under his direction in Year 3 of his tenure, have amassed a 15-14 overall record, and there have been plenty of bumps along the way.

It's no secret, the Vols have been hammering the recruiting trail and landed a top 10 standing in the 247 recruiting rankings.

There is talent pouring into Knoxville, but it's time to not only ask what's going on with that talent once it lands in Rocky Top, but what the coaching staff has done to cultivate that talent to reach its full potential.

Each year, these recruiting rankings lend thought that the Vols are possibly a contender in the SEC East.

While 2020 has been anything but normal, this is turning into a run-of-the-mill season for Tennessee to underperform.

On paper, Tennessee is supposed to have one of the best, if not the best, offensive lines in the conference and instead of being a strength has been a complete liability.

And then, there's the issue at quarterback.

Jarrett Guarantano showed the world he is not the answer at quarterback for the Volunteers.

There have been questions swirling about his ability to compete in the SEC and fact is, he cannot deliver when the team needs.

Against Kentucky last weekend, Guarantano put forth one of the worst stat lines in recent Tennessee history — 14 of 21 for 88 yards and two interceptions.

In fact, Guarantano threw back-to-back- pick sixes that Kentucky used to build a 17-0 lead.

After four games, there's just not one player on this roster that opposing defenses should respect or be scared of making a play.

The question is, what is the coaching staff going to do to not only coach up its talent, but take the next step as a program, because right now, it's the same old song and dance.

Two weeks ago, Tennessee had a chance to show the football world it was ready to play with the big boys of the conference, but squandered a halftime lead over Georgia and eventually was blown out.

Facing Kentucky last weekend, the Vols reached a low point in the Pruitt era by rolling over and quitting after facing adversity in a single game.

The loss against Kentucky was the first against the Wildcats in Neyland Stadium dating back to the 1980s.

This loss perhaps was even worse than the Georgia State loss in 2019.

After the Butch Jones fiasco, the administration chose to bring in Pruitt to hopefully right the ship and after three years of recruiting, the questions remain—is Pruitt the guy who can not only recruit talent, but cultivate talent? Can Tennessee begin to win the games that are against higher ranked opponents? Even in a “down year” why can Tennessee not find a way to be in the mix for winning the division?

There's a lot of football left in 2020, but unfortunately for Tennessee, the number of wins out there appear to be dwindling by the week.

This weekend, the Vols host No. 2 Alabama and finish the 10-game, SEC-only schedule at Arkansas, at Vanderbilt, at Auburn and host Florida and Texas A&M.

Something has to change in the Vols' locker room. Whether it's a change in coaching style, mentality, or on-field personnel, the Vols must make a change and make a change soon.

Otherwise, it's going to be a typical underperforming season.

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