‘Love, trust, urgency’ | Tennessee turns attention to South Carolina Gamecocks

Tennessee's Josh Heupel speaks ahead of South Carolina game
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 7:11 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee’s bounce-back 45-14 win over UTSA last Saturday has the Vols trending in the right direction with South Carolina coming to Neyland Stadium this week.

Previous Coverage: Tennessee moves up in AP College Football Poll

A year ago, this game was one this program and Vol fans would like to forget. A 63-38 routing by South Carolina gave Tennessee an unexpected loss. In 2023, the Vols search for redemption.

Monday following practice, coach Josh Heupel challenged the team with two simple questions.

“I challenged our guys to think about what some of the things are that they have to stop doing in their preparation because they’re not helping you. What’re the things that you have to continue to do, and what’re the things that you have to do to up your game? I think that’s important for everybody inside of our program,” said Heupel.

A year ago, Heupel said South Carolina played harder, was more physical and handled the environment better. This time around, Heupel is hopeful Vol fans will pack the home stadium.

“Home field advantage matters. We need energy and momentum. We need to make it extremely difficult for them to communicate. For us, our fans need to be a huge part of this football game... They have been every Saturday that I have been here. Can’t wait,” said Huepel.

As the Vols prepare for another Spencer Rattler-led team, they can’t worry themselves with last season.

“Last year has nothing to do with this week. Last week has nothing to do with this week. The previous play has nothing to do with the next one. We have to focus on our preparation and be ready to have a great competitive spirit for four quarters.” said Heupel.

However, avoiding the same mistakes last year’s defense made against Rattler will of course be crucial as the QB is completing more than 74% of his passes.

”You have to control the line of scrimmage. You have to apply pressure to him. You can’t let him out of the pocket at the same time. When he does scramble, you have to match the personnel out in space. He created a bunch of big plays against us last year outside of the pocket. He’s a really good football player that poses a problem. We have to do a really good job up front and on the second and third levels in our coverage,” said Heupel.

Defensive Coordinator Tim Banks said love, trust, and urgency are key components to building cohesion within their defense. Defensive lineman Bryson Eason knows that’ll be an important aspect of their unit on Saturday.

“I know for a fact, in the d-line room, we play hard for each other, go hard for each other, strain for each other. It’s like a brotherhood, that we want to work for each other, and be our best for one another. So I think love, trust, and urgency have a lot to do with what we got in the D-line room. and how we want to play for each other. And how we want to do our best to support each other and love each other, whether it’s getting on your tough love or giving me a hug love. So, I just love that about our defense and our team and my D-line unit. So, I love it,” said Eason.

During halftime, Tennessee will celebrate the 1998 National Championship team. Phillip Fulmer and many other members of that year’s team will be honored on the field.

Previous Coverage: Where, when you can watch Vols take on South Carolina

Kickoff between the Vols and Gamecocks is slated for 7:30 p.m., be sure to tune into WVLT at 10:00 a.m. for another edition of Big Orange Kickoff.