Yesterday, on a cold November night in Lexington, the Tennessee Volunteers finally found their first signature win of the season. Led by head coach Josh Heupel, Tennessee put out a resilient effort against the eighteenth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, resulting in a 45-42 win.
The SEC East clash was a back-and-forth affair all game long as Tennessee’s offense lit up the scoreboard early.
After trading punches throughout the night, it was the Vols’ defense and special teams that sealed the deal for Tennessee. Although he missed one in the second half, Chase McGrath’s field goal in the first half was a momentum change and three points, the exact number Tennessee won by. Additionally, when Tennessee was trying to break away from Kentucky’s one-score deficit in the second half, it was defensive back Alontae Taylor that opened up the Vols’ lead with an interception taken back for a touchdown.
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel did meet with the media after the game to discuss his postgame thoughts. In addition, Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, WR Velus Jones Jr, and DB Alontae Taylor also spoke to the media to give their reaction to the game.
However, before the press conferences began, the Tennessee team did have a postgame dance party as their emotions ran high. The players can be seen towards the end of this video put on Twitter by Tennessee Athletics.
Top of the morning. pic.twitter.com/53Nh39FinI
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) November 7, 2021
Below are the full videos for each of the Tennessee players and head coach Josh Heupel.
Tennessee HC Josh Heupel
“Just a great night for our guys, man,” Heupel said on Saturday night after the game. “All the effort, work, that they put into it, really proud of their effort and energy tonight continuing to compete for 60 minutes. There’s a lot of things that we can do better on both sides of the line of scrimmage, but overall really happy. Guys were super excited, the fan base was awesome in the corner of the end zone, and great way to end the night with our defense making a stop there.”
Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker
“Coach Heupel has all the confidence in us,” Hooker said after the game on Saturday night. “So us going out and playing hard for him isn’t too hard. Just going out there, being efficient, being smart, playing a style of ball that we know we can play helped us in that drive [before halftime]. Hats off to my lineman for giving me great time in the pocket and the receivers being decisive in their routes.”
Tennessee WR Velus Jones Jr
“Man, I love coach’s mentality,” Jones Jr said after the game. “You know, he’s going to go for forever, he’s going to fight. You know that’s how you can expect that coach is going to fight. We knew that we were going to get points up on the board, you know everybody just had to follow through with the details and stuff like that. Everybody had to be on point. And so, you know, that’s what happened. We came up with a field goal and that was a huge part of that game. I love coach’s aggressiveness.”
Tennessee DB Alontae Taylor
“It was huge,” Taylor said about the importance of this win over Kentucky. “You know, like you said, last year we didn’t get it done. This year we got it done, fought hard. Really good team over the other side of the ball. A lot of respect to those guys, but we got it done today. You know, that’s just momentum that we’ll take into next season when we play them again.”