Josh Heupel’s culture inside the Tennessee football program and the Vols’ on-field offense both operate under the same motto: Fun, fast, real.
That’s been the rallying cry inside of the building since Heupel and his staff arrived in Knoxville, and it’s proven to be successful in just two quick years. Tennessee’s football team is now known for up-tempo, aggressive offenses that look to overwhelm opposing defenses.
The Vols’ finished the 2021 season with the 9th most yards per game (474.9) across the college football landscape and jumped up to No. 1 in the country (525.5 YPG) following the 2022 season. Despite losing key pieces such as Hendon Hooker and Jalin Hyatt, though, Tennessee’s offense is expected to still put up big numbers behind the names of Joe Milton III, Bru McCoy, Squirrel White, and Jaylen Wright.
ESPN Senior Writer Adam Rittenberg has Tennessee at No. 6 in his latest offensive power rankings across the sport of college football. That’s a 15-spot jump up from where Tennessee was placed in these rankings one year ago (No. 21).
“Coach Josh Heupel has brought an offensive philosophy to Tennessee that has accelerated the program’s return to relevance,” Rittenberg wrote. “Since Heupel’s arrival in 2021, Tennessee ranks second nationally in scoring (42.7 points per game) and fifth in average yards per play (6.86).”
There’s no doubt that Tennessee has lost key pieces this offseason. Hendon Hooker accounted for 74 percent of Tennessee’s total passing yards, while Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman hauled in 40 percent of Tennessee’s passing yards and 47 percent of the Vols’ receiving touchdowns.
“The reload at receiver and certain line spots will be interesting,” Rittenberg continued on to write. “Bru McCoy‘s return will help after he finished second on the team in both receptions (52) and receiving yards (667) last fall. Tennessee also brings back Ramel Keyton and Squirrel White, who combined for 61 receptions and seven touchdowns last season. Oregon transfer Dont’e Thornton adds to the group, along with ESPN 300 recruits Cameron Seldon and Nathan Leacock.”
More from RTI: Former UCF QB With Heupel Ties Joining Tennessee Staff
The Orange Bowl gave a good look at what Tennessee’s offense will essentially be bringing to the table this season. Despite Darnell Wright playing in the game at right tackle, the Vols did not have Hooker, Hyatt, or Tillman available.
Joe Milton finished the game with 251 passing yards and three touchdowns. Squirrel White led the receivers with 108 yards and one touchdown while McCoy and Keyton both had four receptions and a touchdown each. Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright combined for 124 yards and a score on the ground.
Rittenberg has Tennessee’s unit as the third highest-ranked offense from the Southeastern Conference, as well. The Vols trail Georgia at the No. 3 spot and Alabama at the No. 4 spot in the rankings. Other notable names from the conference include LSU at No. 11 and Ole Miss at No. 18.
Future SEC foes Oklahoma and Texas land at No. 7 and No. 9, respectively.
Here’s a look at the Top 10 power rankings from ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg. To see the full Top 25, click here.
- Ohio State
- Florida State