Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel ‘pleased’ after first scrimmage

Tuesday morning was the first time coaches and players got a real look at their team and could evaluate the progress they’ve made so far.
Tuesday morning was the first time coaches and players got a real look at their team and could evaluate the progress they’ve made so far.
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 10:18 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - After one full week of fall camp practice, the Tennessee Vols made their way to Neyland Stadium for their first scrimmage.

The scrimmage was closed to the media, but Coach Josh Heupel met with the media afterward and said he was pleased with the team’s effort on the field.

Tuesday morning was the first time coaches and players got a real look at their team and could evaluate the progress they’ve made so far this summer and where they need to keep working.

The running back unit has been getting a lot of attention from the team as they expect the young players who have the chance to make an impact on this team.

There was some concern in the running back room after Len’Neth Whitehead was ruled out for the year due to an injury. So all eyes are on the newcomers, like Dylan Sampson and Justin Williams-Thomas. These two guys jumped onto the scene and showed a lot of confidence in their understanding of the playbook and where their skill sets shine.

All that talk proved true after Tuesday’s scrimmage coach Heupel took notice to the improvement they’ve made in their short time on rocky top.

”Our young guys got a lot of work. Dylan and Justin, without going back and watching tape, really pleased with how they functioned and played,” said Heupel.

Heupel on Hendon Hooker’s outing, “a really good command of what we’re doing offensively, keeping us out of bad plays, bad situations. You know, turning negatives into zero has been decisive, getting the ball out of his hands. You know with complete command of what we’re doing on the offensive side of the ball, run game and pass game .”

Heupel’s expectations for the young players are high. “Expectations for the young guys today is going out and compete extremely hard, right? Play as hard as you possibly can, every single snap ain’t gonna be perfect. You’re gonna learn. They’ve learned for seven days out on the practice field and this is as real as it’s going to be as far as Game Day operation this afternoon is it’s a big afternoon for us as a program, but it’s a big afternoon for those young guys to it’s, you know, an opportunity to sit back and look and learn. You know, just what game situation looks like and how to function and operate in it,” he said.

There was one turnover that stood out to coach Heupel after the scrimmage. It was an interception by redshirt senior linebacker, Jeremy Banks.

He’s coming off a 2021 season in which he ranked second in the SEC with 128 total tackles and continues to have an outstanding offseason and preseason.

“Jeremy Banks had a big pick out in the flat and did a really good job of reading his keys and getting out there extremely quickly with his eyes,” said Heupel. “You know I thought there was some good red zone work by our defense where they were able to get off the field and field goals. So it was a good day.”

The Big Orange is off Wednesday then it’s back to work. Four straight days of practice leading up to the team’s second scrimmage slated for Sunday morning.

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