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Everything Josh Heupel Said After Tennessee Defeated Austin Peay

WATCH: Josh Heupel Talks Vols at Senior Bowl With Voice of Titans Mike Keith
Photo by Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee football improved to 2-0 on the season Saturday defeating Austin Peay 30-13 at Neyland Stadium.

The Vols’ offense was unimpressive, particularly in the passing game, while Tennessee’s defense performed well in the victory.

Tennessee coach Josh Heupel discussed what he saw go wrong for the offense, what he liked about his team’s performance and much more. Here’s everything Heupel said following the win.

More From RTI: Four Quick Takeaways On Tennessee Football’s Win Over Austin Peay

Opening statement

“First of all, our fans were unbelievable tonight. The delay at the beginning, their energy throughout the course of the game— we appreciate them, our student body section, the whole deal. Thank you to them.”

“A win? Absolutely. Do we need to be a whole lot better? Yes. Absolutely. In particular offensively. There were some things that we control. Give credit to them (Austin Peay) too. They played well. They played hard and they forced us into turnovers and created negative plays. At the end of it, there were a lot of things we can look at in the mirror, watch the video and we have to take another step on the offensive side of the football. Some positive things on special teams and I thought defensively (there were) a lot of positives. Out there on the football field too much by the end of the ball game.”

On how he wants his team to respond to this game

“The job for us is to be the best football team on the field every Saturday. You walk off the field and see the scoreboard and either accomplish that goal or you didn’t. We have to come back in, learn, reset and grow from it, certainly, as we head into conference play we’re going to need to be better than we were tonight. Are we capable of doing those things? Absolutely. There are really small things. Some of our things at wide out— we’ve seen those guys operate, function and handle all that at a really high level. So urgency in how we come back tomorrow afternoon and on Monday I think is absolutely critical for us. I’ll say this, I didn’t feel like we were unfocused last week. We just have to take strides. Obviously the environment will be a good one next week and a good quality opponent.”

On if the short passing was by design or a product of how Austin Peay was defending them

“It was a combination. There were times when we were pushing it down the field and a little bit off, in particular early in the football game. There were some things situationally where we were off. Joe, wide receiver, combination of both things where we just weren’t in sync in critical situations. Third down we have to be better than we were tonight. Have to be able to sustain drives and we have to score points in the red zone. Turnovers, not getting a fourth down. The penalties there took us out of those field zones so there’s a lot of things that we can control and do at a higher level.”

On where he thought his team improved from game one to game two

“There were some things that we did really well tonight. You look at defensively, after the first series there were some real positive things. Offensively, efficiency and effectiveness. It takes 11 guys working as one. There were times tonight where we’re one or two guys off and that’s how it ends up working a little bit like it did tonight. I believe in our guys, believe in our staff and what we’re doing. We’ll continue to get better.”

On if holding out receivers in fall camp has led to a slow start for the passing offense

“I don’t necessarily believe that. I feel like we’ve been really effective and been on the same page at times in the course of training camp. We’re just a little bit off here, particularly early in the football game. We have to do a better job of settling into the game early.”

On balancing Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small’s carries

“At the end of the day you’re going to see all three of those guys. You’re going to see some of the young guys as the season goes on. Inevitably guys get nicked up. Believe in that entire room but those three guys we really feel strongly about so you’ll see them rotate.”

On linebacker Aaron Beasley

“I thought he tackled extremely well. He was violent. I thought you saw his speed, athleticism on some of his pressures, affected the quarterback. Had a sack, thought he played really well tonight.”

On freshman linebacker Jeremiah Telander

“A guy that we have great trust in that’s athletic. He’s gonna continue to grow and develop as a young player, but believe that he can play at this level. He got out there and did some really positive things tonight.”

On kicker Charles Campbell’s three field goals

“A few more than we want him to get, but love Charles. Really confident guy. It matters to him. This opportunity matters a great deal to him and his family. He’s a great teammate and really confident guy and we’re extremely tough fan in him, too. So, happy that he formed the way that he did. Made a difference in the football game.”

On the play of sophomore edge rusher Joshua Josephs

“Josh has got length, athleticism, has continued to grow in who he is off of the field. His best football. It’s still out there for him. We got great trust in him. Excited to see him come back and have a better day than he did a week ago. That’s the kind of growth that we need from everybody on our football team, that we’re capable of here as we continue to go through this journey and certainly next week when we go to Gainesville.”

On how Joe Milton handled the slow start to the game

“Yeah, I thought he was calm. I thought our sidelines in general were calm. We gotta get into the flow of the football game and that can be Joe driving some of those dig routes. It can be us going up and making a difficult catch. It can be great ball security out on the perimeter. I haven’t seen the video, but I guess we probably need to get our hands inside on some of the perimeter blocking, too.“

On how Tennessee handled the weather delay

“The fans did a great job. How did we handle it? There’s nothing that you can do other than ‘hey, here’s the situation, here’s when the expected moment of when we feel like we’re gonna have an opportunity to go out. Here’s what you need to do in the meantime because of an extended break coming off the field.’ That’s rolling out, it’s hydration, it’s fueling. And then here’s the plan as we go out. And at the end of the day, it’s nothing that we’ve practiced, right? And your players gotta handle it in a good way. Your coaches do too. Thought we communicated what we were gonna do in a good way. There’s some things that we did really well early in football game, but offensively, I don’t think that that’s the reason that we didn’t function as well as we’re capable of early in the football game.”

On how to get the offense to settle in early in the football game

“It can be on us to make sure that we try to do some things specifically to get the personnel to fit into the ball game early. Some of it is them releasing some of that anxiety, energy, nervousness, whatever it might be, and settling into the game.”

On Tennessee’s pass rush

“Yeah, one of the areas that we’ve been intentional in having to address with some of the guys that have come in. And, you know, the development of those guys with Coach Garner, with Coach Ekeler, their ability to effect the game, not just on pressures, but with the front four. We’ve done that. Now, we’re gonna go play a better opponent next week, and we’ve got to do that on that road. For us to be successful defensively, we’re gonna need to continue to have that from those guys. And the depth of that group is a strength for us right now, too.”

On if deep shots were open during the game

“The deep, over-the-top shots were not, but there were some things in the middle of the football field that were wide open that we did not execute it. Bru caught a nice deep dig in the second half on a drive we had going. Those were things that were open early in the football game.”

On if that was Joe Milton failing to see open receivers

“No. I mean, we threw some of them, too, and we missed them on the throw. We dropped a couple. We got a shot downfield and we busted protection, too. Offensive football — and defensively, too — but offensive football, you’ve got to have 11 guys operate at a really high level and do their jobs. They’ve got to operate as one. We’re capable of being better than we were tonight. But I’ve got trust and belief in these guys, for sure.”

On Ramel Keyton maintaining confidence after fumbling

“For me, one, like reset to the next part. We talk about that next-play mentality all the time. Perfection in this game is never gonna happen, individually or collectively as a football team. Have you seen Ramel bunch a plays out on that football field?”

Reporter: Yes

“Yeah. I have, too, right? He’s fully capable. He’ll be ready to roll as we get going here. But we’ve got to get him there real quick — and not just him. All of our guys can settle into it. Listen, you work for something, and you want something so much sometimes that it can be a hinderance, too. Our guys relaxing, enjoying the moment and settling into game is what we’ve got to get to.”

On Bru McCoy’s downfield blocking on McCallan Castles touchdown

“Great screen. Cali does a great job on the run, keeps his balance. But Bru’s effort, energy, strain, blocking the guy all the way to the goal line, that’s who he is. That’s who our fans see. That’s who his teammates see every day. He’s a great teammate.”

On if the offensive pass interferences and holding were receivers being too aggressive blocking

“Hmm. Trying to make sure I don’t do anything I’m not supposed to.”

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One Response

  1. Joe Milton has got to learn how to make a play. He is not a rookie and he may not be the guy to play every play. I feel that a two-quarterback system is imminent in order for the Vols to play at the level of Georgia, Michigan, or Ohio State. Coach H, must demand that Milton play better. Yesterday Milton honored Conridge Holloway in a very embarrassing way. Coach H was also embarrassed by a young aggressive Coach from Austin Peay. I think Coach H would serve himself well to understand that the Honeymoon is over and now there is no excuses for any letdown or unfortunately, he will be gone as quickly as he arrived. He is handsomely paid to win every game and to put the best product on the field to reach the National Championship game..then he can maybe relax. Yesterday was a huge step back. If Florida wins, it will be the unraveling and beginning of a new Coaching search. (Maybe not this Season but next year). Ask Auburn & LSU after the National Championships).

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