Everything Josh Heupel Said On SEC Teleconference Ahead Of Kentucky Game

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    Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

    Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel answered questions from the regional media on the SEC Coaches Teleconference Wednesday.

    The Vols head coach discussed the challenge’s Kentucky’s tempo presents, the Beer Barrel and more.

    Here’s everything Heupel said ahead of the matchup with the Wildcats

    Heupel opening statement: Our football team is excited for this one. We just finished up our Wednesday practice. We understand the type of opponent we are playing. Really good football team. They do a nice job in all three phases of playing complimentary football. Offensively, great quarterback who has some weapons on the outside. We have to do a great job of being extremely physical on the defensive side of the football trying to in the line of scrimmage. Offensively, what we see from them is multiple in their looks and do a really good job. If you look at it, top 10 in scoring defense, top 15 in total defense. They do a really nice job on the defensive side of the ball. Special teams, they’ve made some big plays. Dynamic returner that can change the momentum of the game at any time. They’re coming off a bye week. They’ll be healthy. Our preparation has to be urgent to get ourselves ready to go play a great game on Saturday night.”

    Question: There was a barrel trophy given to the winner of this game many years ago. Have you ever seen the barrel on campus?

    Answer: “I have not seen the barrel. I don’t know where it’s located if it is located here in Knoxville. The importance of this game, bordering states and understand the rivalry. I think that’s one of the unique things about being here at Tennessee. If you ask different fans, they’re going to circle a different game. This is one of those games that a lot of our fans circle.”

    Q: There’s a lot of rivalry games with trophies across the country. Do you think there’s any value in that?

    Answer: “I don’t know that it matters for the two teams that are on the field. I’ve been in games where there is one and there hasn’t been one. It doesn’t change the importance of the game and the rivalry itself. I think for fan bases it’s probably something to point to for sure.”

    Q: How has your secondary developed? What is the next step you’d like to see out of that squad in particular?

    A: “Some of it, I just want to see everybody healthy and on the field at the same time. Be able to rotate our guys. Obviously, we’ve been nicked up in that area for a multitude of reasons here over the last four or five weeks. For us, defensively, on the coverage side of it we can continue to be more disciplined in our zone coverage. Pattern reading and thinking and then when we’re playing man defense we have to do a better job of matching them out, playing with good technique. I think if we’re playing in press coverage the same thing if we’re playing off coverage— there’s opportunities for us just to be a little bit better and we can do that. The last piece of it is it’s always all 11 together. Doing a better job of applying pressure and getting to the quarterback.”

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    Q: How important is dictating tempo against a team like Kentucky that doesn’t go fast?

    A: “I think you have to understand that the game itself will probably be a limited possession game. The contrary styles in this one. Your possessions will probably be less frequent. You have to maximize your opportunities. That’s true whether you’re getting 1o-11 possessions in a game or getting 14. The tempo in this one, obviously we have to get drives started. We have to play ahead of the chains. That’s one of the things in the middle part of the game last year that we didn’t do. Some of that was them, some of that was self inflicted wounds from ourselves. Defensively, we have to do a good job on the line of scrimmage and get off the field on third downs. Last year we gave up a lot of long extended drives. We have to do a good job on early downs on defense and get off the field on third down and we have to move the football offensively.”

    Q: How well do you know the Stoops family? How different are they personality wise?

    A: “Worked with Mike and Mark at the University of Arizona. Was obviously with Bob for a long time in Norman. There are differences in their personality, for sure, but there’s some very similar traits in all of them. Very competitive family and obviously they’ve done an unbelievable job if you look at their playing careers and coaching careers. They’ve done a really good job at the collegiate level.”

    Q: Did you feel like Alabama receiver Jermaine Burton should have been suspended for shoving a female Tennessee student?

    A: “I’m going to be honest, I haven’t seen the video or paid much attention to anything that’s happening outside of our program. There’s enough going on here in Knoxville that we have to continue to develop our roster and our program. Don’t really deal with hypotheticals as far as that happening.”

    Q: What have you seen from the Kentucky passing offense and Will Levis?

    A: “First of all, Will has great arm talent. He can push the ball vertically and horizontally. You have to defend all field zones when you’re playing against them. He’s a really good decision maker and I think has complete command of what they’re doing offensively. He does a lot of things in the run game for them too on early downs but does a great job on play action pass and he does have some weapons out on the perimeter. Definitely don’t want to let those guys get started.”

    Ryan Schumpert is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. Ryan spent three years with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program before joining RTI. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.