KNOXVILLE — Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt understands that football games will be won in the trenches.
The Volunteers have a lot of inexperience on both the offensive and defensive lines. A 99-play scrimmage Sunday didn't do much to answer any questions the coaching staff had.
And on Tuesday, Pruitt had quite the analogy to sum up the situation.
"Both sides of the ball are very inconsistent," he said after practice. "From a defensive standpoint, just lining up the proper way, right now we're still in elementary school. Hopefully next week we'll be in junior high, the next week high school and eventually at the college level before it's all done."
Pruitt wasn't done, though.
"To me, I look at it like this," he told reporters. "We all get in the car every day. When y'all leave here y'all are going to get in the car, OK? You're going to drive, whether you're going out Alcoa Highway or Kingston (Pike), out there. When you get out there, just shut your eyes while driving down the road and see how well you do, because if you don't know the things I'm talking about and trying to play defensive line, you're basically playing with your eyes shut, and that's not real easy to do.
"So we've got to do a good job of coaching guys up. They've got to understand it and learn it. We can sit in a room and talk about it, right? We can show it to them and they can get it, they can write it down, give you the answers and all that, but when you go out there and the heat index is 105, do they really get it? When it's the 65th minute of practice, do they really get it? When the offense is daggum stickin' it down their throat, do they get it? I don't know; that's what we're trying to figure out who can and who can't. Right now, we've got a ways to go there."
Outside of such guys as quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, inside linebacker Daniel Bituli, outside linebacker Darrell Taylor and receivers Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings, to name a few, there aren't many players who have had consistent success in a Vols uniform.
"We have some guys that know what to do, know how to play, how to execute, but we have very few of those guys," Pruitt said. "We have a lot of guys that have plenty of ability and flash at times, but they're inconsistent. We've got to get those guys to play at a higher level in all three phases. We have a few that have ability but, for whatever reason, don't know what to do or don't know how to do it. They're just not there yet — and that's all over the country, not just at Tennessee, that's just the way fall camp goes.
"That's why you see teams with experience tend to have success. That's kind of where we're at: We've got to work hard this week. We've set goals to improve on this week, and we're working hard to do that."
Allen, Buchanan updates
Linebacker Jordan Allen had a procedure Tuesday to repair a torn hip flexor, according to his Twitter page.
Allen thanked Dr. William Meyers of the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia for "repairing me," while also thanking his mom, Lisa Magee, for "always being there for me."
"When I first tore my hip flexor my first thought was "So what, Now What?" Allen tweeted Tuesday. "It's not about what life throws at you, it's how you choose to react! I'll be back."
The 6-foot-4, 238-pound outside linebacker has struggled to find his way into the rotation since transferring from Community College of San Francisco. In nine games as a reserve linebacker and special teams member, Allen totaled six tackles (five solo), with two coming in the Vols' 30-24 upset of Auburn.
Pruitt also said Tuesday that senior defensive back Baylen Buchanan is being held out for precautionary reasons while also hinting that the 5-11, 196-pounder who won't play this season. Pruitt noted that Buchanan — who has 73 career tackles and five passes defended — still has a redshirt year available.
"Baylen had a couple of issues during the offseason," Pruitt said. "Basically we discovered he has a narrowing of the spine. We've sent him to a lot of specialists across the country, and we're just waiting and gathering information.
"One thing you've got to figure out, is this something he's had the whole time he's played? Or is this something that's happened now? We're going to continue to hold him out because his safety is our first priority."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.