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What Josh Heupel Said About Cedric Tillman’s Absence Against Missouri

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Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee’s offense found little resistance from a strong Missouri defense Saturday inside Neyland Stadium. The Vols scored 66 points on their way to a lopsided victory over the Tigers.

Tennessee did it without star receiver Cedric Tillman who wore street clothes on the sideline and didn’t see the field. Tillman missed four games in the middle of the season with an ankle injury before returning to play against Kentucky and Georgia.

“Ced could have played in this one,” Heupel said. “It has nothing to do with the ankle. … Talking with him after warm ups it just felt it probably best to sit this one out.”

With Tillman’s absence apparently unrelated to his previous ankle injury, the details about why the preseason All-SEC receiver didn’t play is unclear.

Tillman partners with Moonshine Mountain Cookies for a NIL deal that gives fans free cookies whenever he catches two touchdowns in a game. The redshirt senior receiver hadn’t posted a promotional Moonshine Mountain Cookie instagram post while injured but did this Friday before the Missouri game.

More From RTI: Four Quick Takeaways on Tennessee’s Win Over Missouri

Tillman went through pre game warmups and ran through the T as part of the Senior Day ceremony in his full pads looking prepared to play.

The good news for Tennessee is that Heupel appeared extremely optimistic that Tillman would be ready to play next week at South Carolina.

“He’ll be ready to go next week,” Heupel said.

As the scoreboard indicated, Tennessee didn’t need its physical receiver to have plenty of success against Missouri.

The Vols tallied 460 passing yards in the win including 146 yards from Jalin Hyatt and 111 yards from Bru McCoy. McCoy was particularly impressive hauling in some strong catches over the middle.

“Consistency, play making ability,” Heupel said of what Tillman brought. “Made some tight catches. Worked over the middle of the football field extremely well. Had some big plays. Had third down conversions. The way they matched things out was unique at times and trying to find the right matchups to play against.”

Four different Tennessee pass catchers totaled over 50 yards and 10 different Tennessee players caught passes.

The Vols, and potentially Tillman, return to the field next week at South Carolina. The exact kick off time and broadcast details are unsettled but it will be a night game in Williams-Brice Stadium.

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