Vols enter first game week of 2023 season
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - In just five days, the Tennessee Vols will kick off its 2023 season. The first game is in Nashville against the Virginia Cavaliers.
Last season ended with a New Year’s Six bowl win over Clemson. The Vols have carried that momentum with them all off-season. With that comes high expectations to produce similar results from their 11-win season a year ago.
This team is ready to take the field Saturday afternoon.
“Yeah, we’re all super ready,” said Linebacker Aaron Beasley. “Honestly for me, it came really fast. It feels like just a couple weeks ago we were leaving Miami, so we’re really excited to get back on the field and ready to go play.”
Beasley also reiterated their motto for the season: “win the [SEC] East.”
This season will again feature an up-tempo offense. While fun to watch, Coach Josh Heupel said it’s the execution that’s paramount.
An aspect where Joe Milton continues to take the next step now that he’s back in the starter role for the first time since the 2021 season.
”He’s become very mature in what he’s about, how he’s going to work, how he’s going to impact his teammates, the leadership role. It’s not just going into the Orange Bowl. He’s been that guy inside of our program for a long time. Someone who continues to grow and has a great understanding of defensive alignments which allows us to adjust really quickly with him, I think that’s really important. Has complete command of what we’re doing offensively too,” said Heupel.
The Vols will also rely on its depth this season, a luxury they haven’t afforded in recent years. That depth and replacing talent has left a few question marks for position groups like the wide receiver unit.
They’re having to replace Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman but also return guys like Bru McCoy.
Despite the loss of Hyatt and Tillman, Heupel still has high hopes for his receivers.
“We have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football for us. Ramel really played the last eight, nine weeks of the season for us on the right side. Bru McCoy has played at a really high level. Squirrel White when given the opportunity last year played extremely well. Dont’e’s continued to come on. Then two young guys that I’ve talked about Caleb Webb and Chaz Nimrod, we feel really confident about the growth that they’ve had inside the program and their ability to play at a really high level,” said Heupel.
Ahead of kick-off Saturday, both Tennessee and Virginia will hold a moment of silence to remember the three Cavaliers who were killed in a shooting in Nov. of 2022.
Tennessee will also wear decals on their helmets to honor those players.
Copyright 2023 WVLT. All rights reserved.