Vols focused on taking down Governors

Published 4:14 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023


Tennessee football held its Thursday morning walkthrough inside the Anderson Training Center as the ninth-ranked Vols continue prepping for the 2023 home opener. UT squares off with in-state foe Austin Peay Saturday in Neyland Stadium, with kickoff set for 5 p.m.

According to head coach Josh Heupel, the team’s focus this week — and every single week — is more self-oriented than opponent-driven. The squad has been intentional in growing week-to-week, looking to improve off of a 49-13 season-opening triumph over Virginia to kick off the 2023 campaign.

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“It all starts with the guy in the mirror and ultimately everybody inside of that team room,” Heupel said. “Our preparation has been really good and sound. Today was really good. Continue to win the preparation battle here as we get ready for kickoff. You have to be consistent in your preparation and your competitive nature when you walk out onto that field.

“First ball game inside of Neyland, and I expect our guys to be excited and ready to go compete for 60 minutes. In all three phases, this early in the year there are so many things that we needed to grow from last week. I think our guys have been intentional in that.”

Heupel opened Thursday’s press conference with well wishes for the former Vols in the NFL. The regular season begins tonight with four VFLs in action as the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (Trey Smith) take on the Detroit Lions (Emmanuel Moseley, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cameron Sutton). 2022 SEC Offensive Player of the Year Hendon Hooker was selected by the Lions in the third round of the NFL Draft this past spring and remains on injured reserve as he continues making great progress recovering from an ACL tear last fall.

“I know the NFL season opens up (this week),” Heupel said. “I just wanted to wish all of our VFL’s over the course of the season good luck, and hopefully we’ll see a bunch of them back here during their bye weeks. Good luck to those guys as they kick off.”