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What Josh Heupel Said In Final Media Availability Before Season Opener

Josh Heupel
Tennessee Football head coach Josh Heupel. Photo via Tennessee Athletics (2021)

Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel met with the media Thursday for the final time before the Vols’ season opener against Virginia Saturday.

Heupel discussed the availibility of a pair of injured Vols, his teams eagerness to face someone other than themselves and much more.

Here’s everything Heupel said during his Thursday media availability.

More From RTI: Three Things To Watch For In Tennessee’s First Two Games

Opening statement

“It has been a good week of preparation. Have to finish it the right way, but excited to go play in Nashville.”

On Cooper Mays’ status for the opener

“You guys that have been here know that we kind of make those decisions on Friday. We still have one practice left in us. We will make all of those decisions tomorrow.”

On Elijah Simmons’ status for the opener

“We will know more (later), but (he’s) a guy that has been great all of training camp and really all offseason. He will be out for this one, but we will see where that goes moving forward.”

On Virginia quarterback Tony Muskett

“A guy that’s played at a really high level. Transferring into a little bit of a new system, I anticipate with his experience that he will be ready to play at a high level. For us, we have to do a great job of affecting the run game, eliminating that on normal downs and trying to get them into some third-and-long situations.”

On balancing carries for the running backs while also giving the ball to the hot hand

“All of those guys are going to play a bunch. That’s true this week, and that’s true throughout the course of the season. Sometimes you get into the second half of things and you end up feeding one guy. Inevitably in this game at that position, guys get nicked up, whatever it might be. You have to go with the guy that is fresh and ready to play at the highest level at the end.”

On having faith in Tennessee’s interior defensive line with Simmons out

“Absolutely. You guys have heard their names throughout the course of training camp. The guys with experience are playing at a really high level. The young guys have a chance to be special players, so feel good about where we’re at.”

On the team being ready to play a game instead of practicing

“You get done with training camp and you start your preparation. This past week, you can feel that it’s time to go hit somebody else. You’re looking at 20 practices during the course of training camp, 20-plus, and 15 spring ball, so they’re certainly ready to go play. All the work that we’ve put in since the end of January was for these opportunities here, and this is a special one. It’s the opener to the season, a really good opponent, plus it’s unique that we’re opening up in Nashville in front of a bunch of our own fans.”

On mechanics that have been cleaned up since time at camp

“Through the course of scrimmages and a ton of situational football that you get into, in particular the (latter) one, we still work on a lot of those situations. I feel like we’ve cleaned those things up. I wasn’t concerned about where we were at based on that second scrimmage. There’s always things that you’re looking to clean up. I feel really good about where we’re at right now.”

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