Josh Heupel speaks on Bru McCoy injury, James Pearce’s emergence at Knoxville QB Club

Tennessee heads into bye week without McCoy; defensive line becoming one of the nation’s best.
Josh Heupel gives us the latest in UT football during the Vols' bye week
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 6:58 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2023 at 12:14 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A day after it was announced that Tennessee wide receiver Bru McCoy underwent a successful operation to repair a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle, Head Coach Josh Heupel was the guest speaker at the Knoxville Quarterback Club. Heupel shared an update on McCoy and how much the California native enjoyed his Rocky Top time.

Previous Coverage: Tennessee’s star receiver Bru McCoy suffers season-ending injury, undergoes surgery

“He’s got a great football future in front of him, and we’re excited for that,” said Heupel. “He’s a guy that’s been at two other stops, and I know he wishes he’d started his journey here just because he’s enjoyed it so much.”

The Vol Shop has designed a new t-shirt wishing McCoy a speedy recovery. Proceeds from each shirt sale will go directly to Huddle For Hearts™, which McCoy and the Peyton Walker Foundation have worked together to create. Huddle For Hearts™ focuses on increasing awareness, treatment and prevention of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

Despite missing McCoy for the second half of Saturday’s game against South Carolina, Tennessee shined offensively thanks to a solid run game against the Gamecocks. Jaylen Wright, Jabari Small and Dylan Sampson helped the Vols rush for 238 yards, giving them the eighth-best rush offense in the country.

Previous Coverage: Vols take revenge over South Carolina, 41-20

South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler failed to get into a rhythm inside Neyland Stadium. The veteran signal-caller failed to toss a touchdown. Heupel said the lack of offensive efficiency thanks in part to Tennessee’s performance on the defensive line.

“Our D-Line did a great job against the run, harassed the quarterback all night long,” said Heupel. “They did an unbelievable job. We did a good job matching out on the perimeter too.”

The defensive highlight of the night came on Kamal Hadden’s 28-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was the first defensive score by the Vols since 2021.

Heupel wasn’t the only one impressed with the defensive line’s performance. Sophomore Defensive Lineman James Pearce Jr. became the second Vol to be named SEC Defensive Player of the Week this season, making a pair of sacks.

“Just getting home and doing what we need to do upfront and in the back, covering, getting after the quarterback, putting pressure on him,” Pearce said on his key to success on Saturday. “We’ve got to get off the field on third downs and get the offense the ball back.”

The North Carolina native now ranks second in the SEC with five sacks this season.

Kickoff time for Tennessee’s matchup with Texas A&M has been announced. The Aggies and Volunteers will kick things off at 3:30 on October 14th.