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Everything Josh Heupel Said in Final Availability Before Missouri Game (Plus Video)

Josh Heupel
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel. Photo via RTI.

No. 13 Tennessee and No. 14 Missouri will meet this Saturday afternoon in Columbia for a massive game in the SEC Eastern Division standings.

Both the Volunteers and the Tigers are 7-2 on the year with only four games remaining on the schedule.

Here’s a look at everything that Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel said during his final availability before the Missouri game on Thursday morning in Knoxville. Check out a full video of Heupel’s Thursday press conference below as well.

Tennessee Football Preview: Vols Look For Critical SEC Win Against Missouri in Columbia

Transcript (via UT Athletics)

Head Coach Josh Heupel

On how important it is to get off to a fast start at Missouri…

“They (Missouri) have done a good job. They’ve started fast, in particular at home. We have to start fast in this one, too. At the same time, if it doesn’t (start fast), we have to play for 60 minutes. It’s a point of emphasis. We know the type of atmosphere it’s going to be and the type of football team we’re playing. We have to be dialed in for 60 (minutes). Every play can be the difference in the football game.”

On if there was as much dialogue between coaches and quarterbacks about schemes when he played football as there is today…

“In my experiences as a quarterback, Joey (Halzle) was in the quarterback room with me, and I think it’s important that you understand what he (Joe Milton III) likes, why he likes it and what he can operate really efficiently in. From week to week, the changes that you make, something on a Tuesday practice that he might not be comfortable with. Him understanding the why behind what you’re doing, how you think it’s actually going to play out and continuing to build towards gameday and making sure that he’s comfortable with those things by kickoff.”

On scripting the opening offensive drive of a game…

“You do some of that for sure, but structurally it can be different. You have to adjust within the course of the drive. Guys being dialed in and ready when the ball is teed up and the opening kickoff happens. Obviously, good players will go operate and function at a high level too.”

On the average yards per pass attempt going up the past few games…

“Average per completion, some of that goes into the efficiency of what we’ve done down the football field; some of that goes into structure. All of those things that play into operating at a really high level go into the factor of doing that. Young guys and skill guys, including McCallan (Castles), who is new in this offense, operating at a really high level and being on the same page based off the looks that we are seeing all go into the quarterback playing at a high level too. You have to factor in all of those things to why that is happening.”

On Jackson Ross’ impact and the punt coverage unit…

“Jackson has done a really good job of continuing to grow. He’s been really solid here in the middle half portion of the season. The 10 guys around him have been really good at protection, and they’ve been great in coverage. Guys don’t think about it, but Matthew Salansky has done an unbelievable job at snapping, getting down the football field and being a part of fair catches or being in on the tackle too. Your gunners have to win. It takes all 11, but Jackson’s growth and comfort in playing American football, it’s been fun to see that evolve throughout the course of the season.”

On McCallan Castles’ growth over the course of the season…

“There’s a lot on our tight ends, maybe as much as any position. You look at their involvement in the run game, understanding the structures and the nuances of what we’re doing there. You look at their involvement in pass protection when we’re in 11 personnel. And then obviously, you have to be like a wideout when you go out on the perimeter. There’s a lot of detail that goes into all three phases of that. He has played a lot of football. I do believe he is playing his best football right now. He’s a guy that cares deeply. He’s a perfectionist by nature. Every rep, he wants to be right on. He prepares in a really good way.”

On if he knew Jackson Ross would punt with both feet when he arrived at Tennessee…

“His recruiting film, what I watched, was as unique and as good as any recruiting tape that I had seen. What he does with his feet is something that I would’ve tried to have done with my arm. It was pretty impressive.”

On if he reminisces on his path to Tennessee when he returns to places he used to coach…

“Saturday will totally be about the ball game. The trip into Columbia, we understand what we’re getting into. There are a lot of good people that have been and are important to the journey that my wife and I and our family have been on. We’re very thankful to those people for helping me in my career.”

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