The Tennessee Vols appeared to be on an upward trajectory after finishing 8-5 in 2019.

UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt received an extension prior to the 2020 season. Everyone was expecting big things from Tennessee football.

And then the Vols proceeded to go 3-7 with losses to Kentucky and Arkansas (a Razorbacks team led by a first-year head coach in Sam Pittman) this season.

So what went wrong?

Most of the finger-pointing has been directed at Pruitt, which is understandable since he’s the head coach. It all falls on him, right?

But tight end Austin Pope, who is currently in the transfer portal, places the blame elsewhere.

In a recent “exit interview” with The Athletic’s David Ubben, Pope says the attitude of some of the players on Tennessee’s roster is the issue.

“I think some people in the program lack that mindset (excelling at a high level), as to how hard they’re motivated in terms of why they’re here,” explained Pope.

“Like running through the T is just enough for them. Or putting a jersey on and taking a picture after the game after we get our eyes beat in by Alabama, that’s cool.”

Pope is essentially insinuating that there’s not enough of a “killer instinct” among the players on the Vols’ roster.

I can certainly see that.

Tennessee has good football coaches. Pruitt is wise beyond his years when it comes to the game of football.

But Pruitt and his staff have to find a way to install a different kind of mindset in the program.

Because I don’t care how much talent Tennessee has, they’re not going to win many games until winning games becomes the only thing that matters.

Maybe that will change in the near future. If it doesn’t, then Pruitt won’t survive much longer as the head coach at Tennessee.

Featured image via Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports