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Everything Josh Heupel Said On SEC Teleconference After Season Opener

Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee coach Josh Heupel answered questions on the SEC Coaches Teleconference Wednesday afternoon ahead of the Vols’ home opener against Austin Peay.

Heupel discussed a myriad of topics including Keenan Pili’s injury, honoring Condredge Holloway with smokey grey alternate uniforms and more.

Here’s everything Heupel said.

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Opening statement

“Excited to get back home and get an opportunity to kick off inside of Neyland Stadium. This week is the first time a lot of our players have an opportunity to experience Vol Walk, you know, 40,000 fans there to meet us as we pull up to the stadium. Vol Navy and obviously game day. It will be something that those guys remember forever. It’s also unique. We’re celebrating Condredge Holloway and what he represented here at the University of Tennessee and what he meant in this league and across America. First class starting quarterback in the SEC. Someone who represents himself, his family and stands for everything that’s good in college football. He’s always been that way and for us to wear the Smokey Greys (uniforms) in a pattern that he wore is really special. And to have him around our program this week is special too.”

On if Keenan Pili got injured against Virginia and is out against Austin Peay

“We weren’t sure earlier in the week the severity of the injury. Will not be available this week. He’ll miss a couple weeks here.”

On is he doesn’t believe it’s a super long term injury

“I don’t believe it is season ending. We’ll see how he continues to heal up here in the coming days and weeks.”

On if he’s watched much Condredge Holloway film, if they’ve shown any to the team

“We have not shown the team yet but the ‘Artful Dodger’ has been in our team room over the first couple years we’ve been here. He’s been around our program. A couple years ago we got a chance to honor him with a lot of the individuals that meant so much to Tennessee and to this league with their statue unveiling outside of our stadium. He’ll be around our program here at the end of the week— he and his family— so really excited about that.”

On punter Jackson Ross joking about having a better arm than Heupel

“Yeah, definitely the first in my career and probably won’t be the last time I get called out by one of our players. Yeah, Jackson and I still have that rivalry inside of our building. He is still talking a little bit too much trash.”

On his thoughts on this being the last year of divisions

“That’s a long ways off my thought process right now. I’m concentrated on this year. I think the continued growth and strength of this league is a positive as we continue to grow and expand. With that, I think it’s hard to lost divisional games that you have played every year. They’re fun for fanbases and players and coaches, but at the same time, you want to have an opportunity for your players and staff and fans to experience all the different places inside of this league, too, which the balance of those things becomes really tough, but in 24-25, excited to get to that schedule when we get to it.”

On Tennessee’s energy at practice this week

“Our kids have been really good. Really good focus. Just finished our Wednesday practice on the field. Guys competed, strained, they’ve been really consistent in their habits and that was true last spring, but in particular, this training camp, guys have come out with the same demeanor and competitiveness every day, so I like what we’ve done so far this week.”

On if what he saw against Virginia matched what he saw in practice last week

“Yeah, I thought there were a ton of positives. There’s a lot of phases that you go back and watch the film, that we have to improve upon, too, but welcome to football. This isn’t a game of being perfect. It’s about constant growth and constant competition, and pushing yourself individually to be your best. And then, collectively, becoming your best, too, man. It’s a long journey during the course of a season. Good teams continue to get better over the course of every single week.”

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