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Everything Josh Heupel Said After Blowout Loss Against Georgia

Josh Heupel
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee football was uncompetitive on Saturday afternoon, falling to Georgia xx-xx at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. The Vols jumped out to an early lead but it was all Georgia from there.

Tennessee coach Josh Heupel discussed the third down struggles, not playing Nico Iamalaeava and much more. Here’s everything Heupel said after the lopsided loss.

More From RTI: Four Quick Takeaways From Tennessee Football’s Blowout Loss Against Georgia

Opening Statement

“A lot of good ball played by the orange in that stadium for a while (and) tonight that was certainly not it. Give Georgia a ton of credit. They’re a really good football team and have been for a while. Just at the end of the day, early in the football game, third downs were a huge part of it. They were able to convert. We weren’t able to convert on any of our third-down situations. After the initial run by us, we had a little bit of efficiency, but couldn’t sustain drives. When I say efficiency, in the run game. But weren’t able to sustain anything. They were able to make plays, stay on the field, convert third downs and score points. I like that we were able to get something out of the two-minute drive at the end of the half. But defense starts fast in third quarter, offense can’t put anything together, just disappointing offensively.

“Third downs, 2 of 11, you’re not gonna win. You get their conversion rate (9 of 13), that’s how you win. So (it’s) disappointing.We gotta regroup. We’re banged up. You guys saw that before the game, during the game. This game doesn’t care about it. We gotta come ready to play next Saturday.”

On what Georgia was doing to convert so much on third down

“A lot of it was in the pass game. At the end of the day, I said going into it, there’s gonna be one-on-one situations. They made plays in those one-on-one situations. And that can be protection, that can be giving the quarterback time. It can be making the plays out on the perimeter. And end of the day, we didn’t do those things, you know what I mean? Those plays … give you the ability (to convert).”

On Tennessee having to play a walk-on on defense and what it says about how far this program has to go building the roster

“We still gotta continue to take steps. That’s in what we’re doing as a program, it’s our personnel, the depth of our program, all those things, to continue to climb the ranks inside of this league. That’s a really good football team. You know what I mean? What they’ve done over the last couple of years is special. But we got a ways to go.”

On Tennessee struggling to stop teams from going on runs in the four losses this season

“I don’t think there is just one common thread. I thought in this one our guys continued to compete. I’m gonna speak from the offensive side of it, being able to sustain and make the competitive play in this one. You know what I mean? Because I felt like this is different than early in the year when we were at Florida. At the end of the day, as a program, you gotta find a way to get it on Saturday afternoon and that’s everybody, from me to the assistants, everybody that suits up and goes out there.”

On if Tennessee’s offensive struggles was more due to Georgia’s defense or the Vols failing to execute

“A little bit different structure (from Georgia’s defense) not every down. Anticipate some of it, their personnel and us managing and being efficient in what we’re doing. And then the third downs, a lot of that was man-to-man, being able to protect it, being able to get it off, being able to go win in a one-on-one situation. We do some things to try to give them some space to create some for them to win. And they gotta be good enough to go make plays.”

On how a program like Tennessee can close the gap with elite teams in the SEC, if it’s through stacking recruiting classes or using the NCAA Transfer Portal

“I think it’s a combination of all of those things. We started obviously year one, we were way down on a number of scholarships. We’ve gotten closer to 85. We’re trying to develop some young guys from within. I think that’s important. (Georgia has) done that. They’ve added through the portal, too, but a lot of it’s been kids inside of the program. So we gotta continue to develop and recruit.”

On if being close last season makes it harder, more frustrating trying to get over the hump

“I don’t think it makes the challenge any different. We’ve played good football. We haven’t played it for four quarters every Saturday afternoon. In our losses that has shown up. Not taking anything away from them. They’re a really good football team. Today was not our best football. And, I said it earlier, this game doesn’t care. There’s no asterisk, you know what I’m saying? Like next man’s gotta be up and gotta go play at a championship level.”

On the challenges of trying to find offensive rhythm with so many injuries

“Well, it is different than if you have those guys, but at the end of the day, like you gotta line up and the 11 gotta go play against their 11 and we gotta find a way to go win in the run game, in the past game— all of it.  We didn’t do a good enough job today, as an offensive unit. And I’m including coaches in that too.”

On the offensive linemen that got hurt, how much harder that makes things

“We’ll know more. But, yeah, we’re thin. If you got any eligibility, let me know.”

On the season not going how they hoped, his confidence his team will respond the right way

“Not how anybody wanted it to or how they worked for it too. You don’t like the scoreboard, you know what I mean? But our guys continue to play out there. They continue to compete, wasn’t good enough, you know what I’m saying? But they continue to play hard. So this is a resilient group. They’re a prideful group.”

On if there were any thoughts on playing Nico Iamaleava in the second half

“At this point, just because there’s only one regular season, you know, I mean there’s a lot of variables that are taking place outside on that field today. Today and what type of situation you want to put them in.”

On how this Georgia team compares to the last two

“This team’s continued to get better throughout the course of the season. I don’t know how many first round draft picks they’ll have. They’re so big, long, athletic, physical, play with great fundamentals, technique. It’s a good football team. To do what they’ve done. You have to be a good football team.”

On this season’s offense not living up to Heupel’s standards as a coach

“Been a long time since we’ve looked the scoreboard the way we have this year. Really disappointing that we haven’t found a way to put more points on the board and help this football team win.”

On how he’d assess the adjustments and effort from the defense

“Yeah, throughout the course of the game, I thought they were physical. They played hard. Did a better job for a majority of the night of tackling. That was something that hurt us. Still let the quarterback out  early in the football game to make some plays  with his feet on third down that sustained some drives for them.”

On trying to overcome Alabama and Georgia’s ability to sell championships and NFL production on the recruiting trail

“Some of it, for sure. But, I actually, some of the success that we’ve had on the field, but also like what our guys have done as far as going on to the NFL and the development inside of our program has been big and recruits recognize that too. So, that needs to be  something that helps us continue to go recruit at a high level.”

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