Tennessee Vols refreshed after bye week, ready for LSU

The Vols will also debut their ‘Smokey Grey’ uniforms in Baton Rouge this Saturday. It’s the first time since 2017 that Tennessee has sported these threads.
Tennessee starting wide receiver, Cedric Tillman, has undergone tightrope surgery according to coach Josh Heupel.
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 7:23 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 11:31 AM EDT
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Heupel Speaks Ahead of LSU Game

Head Coach Josh Heupel speaks to the media ahead of the top-25 matchup against LSU Saturday. 🏈🍊

Posted by WVLT on Thursday, October 6, 2022

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Coming off of a restful and relaxing bye week, the Vols are eager to get back on the field.

With the return of Cedric Tillman still up in the air, and cornerback Warren Burrell out for the season with an upper-body injury, the “next-man-up” mentality has never been so crucial for this Vols team.

Running back Jabari Small knows in order to keep their momentum; it’s the next-man-up mentality.

“It’s the next-man-up mentality. You know, we work hard across the board it doesn’t matter the depth chart. There’s talent all across the roster. Um, you know, Ramel stepped in and did a good job last week, played confident, and didn’t think too much. I think that’s just the name of the game. We believe in Ramel just like we believe in Cedric,” said Small.

The Vols remain in the top ten in the latest AP Poll, keeping their position at No. 8. As Tennessee gets ready for the 25th-ranked LSU Tigers, it marks the third time UT will play a top 25 team so far this season.

“There’s no way you can flip a switch on Saturday and just show up and play the way that you want to,” said coach Josh Heupel. “So preparation is everything. Our players have gotten so much better in that, and I expect them to handle the week in the right way. This is a really good team, be a great environment; it’s always tough to win on the road inside of this league. This is our next opportunity.”

This front seven for LSU is gritty and physical, with length and experience on their side. So far this season, they’ve come back from 13 and 17-point deficits.

Their latest come-from-behind win happened against Auburn, when they posted 21 unanswered points to seal their victory on the road.

With that in mind, coach Josh Heupel said their team needs to play with their foot on the gas pedal the whole game.

“We talk a lot about playing 0-0 for 6 minutes. The way they play and compete, no matter what the scoreboard looks like, you have to be prepared for their best for 60 minutes. They [LSU] are a resilient team, the way they create short fields and flipping the way the game’s played here, you can see that all the way from week one to this past week.”

LSU’s defense also leads the SEC in forced fumbles with eight and is fourth in sacks and sixth in interceptions with four. Small knows how important fundamentals and fundamentals will be this weekend.

“The smaller things, in these big games, the tight, close-knit games, they mean the difference of the game sometimes, so we gotta be on our Ps and Qs and just lock into the fundamentals, you know, taking care of the ball. All those little things, they add up in big games, and they’re a good team, so we gotta make sure we do what we do. That’s just how Tennessee is, you know, we play the best teams every year. Nothing is easy about our schedule,” said Small.

While LSU is near the top of the leaderboard in several defensive stat lines, this Tennessee offense takes the top spot in points per game with 48.50. Vols’ offensive lineman Jerome Carvin, said when they’re able to march down the field and covert the drive into points, it’s a moment the whole team gets in on.

“You know, playing as offense is fun. Scoring touchdowns is hard. Man, anytime you get the chance to get your guys in the end zone man, it’s great. Our coaches emphasize man, go celebrate with your guys, you know. This game is hard; this is a hard game, man. Whenever you get a chance to go score, you know it’s still a game, man; go have fun, and go celebrate with our guys. We love those guys too, just seeing them score, man, it’s amazing,” said Carvin.

The Vols will also debut their ‘Smokey Grey’ uniforms in Baton Rouge this Saturday. It’s the fist time since 2017 that Tennessee has sported these threads.

Kick-off is set for noon eastern.