Josh Heupel previews Tennessee-LSU game week




 

No. 8 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) will play at LSU (4-1, 2-0 SEC) Saturday in Week 6.

Kickoff between the Vols and Tigers is slated for noon EDT. ESPN will televise the SEC matchup.

Ahead of the SEC contest, second-year head coach Josh Heupel previewed the Vols against LSU.

"Last week, finished up good on the field with the guys, and then obviously our staff had a chance to get around the country and go recruit, which was a great opportunity for us to get out and see players, but take our brand across the country too," Heupel said of Tennessee's open date. "Finished up good, and now we turn our attention, obviously, to a really good football team here.

"Great opportunity at the end of the week. They continue to find ways to win. They're a good football team. They're long, they're athletic on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and obviously have really good skill players too. Exciting week for us as we continue to go down this journey. Players were good this morning and looking forward to the opportunity on Saturday."

Below is Heupel's preview of Tennessee-LSU game week from a transcript provided by the University of Tennessee.

On what he learned from defending against Florida's Anthony Richardson and applying it to LSU's Jayden Daniels

"There are areas that we have to grow that will show up again in this game. For us defensively, it's the eyes, keys, tight ends are exiting in the formation. That will be critical in this football game. The quarterback run absolutely is a huge part of the football game. That can be in some read game, but also just as the pocket breaks down or he goes through his progression, his ability to escape. The way they finish runs is probably a little bit different just in their style. But absolutely, the mobility of the quarterback is a huge part of us having to defend that in this football game."

On LSU's ability to come back from being down

"Well just for us, you have to understand that if you're up on the scoreboard, it doesn't matter. We talk a lot about playing it 0-0 for 60 minutes. The way they play and compete no matter what the scoreboard looks like, you have to be prepared for their best for 60 minutes. They are a resilient team. They've done a really good job of creating turnovers, making special teams plays, creating short fields and flipping the way the game is played here. You can see that from week one all the way through this past week."

On the challenges presented by LSU's defense

"The front four are big, physical, long, athletic, and they have the ability to apply pressure to the quarterback and break the pocket down. You want to stay out of long-yardage situations against them. On the back end, they have a bunch of new bodies to their roster with a bunch of transfers. Those guys have played a lot of football. I think they continue to get more in sync and more comfortable in their scheme. For us, we have to have balance in what we're doing, so run game on early downs will be critical. Playing from ahead of the chains is going to be critical in this game."

On the importance of the bye week for younger players to reset

"It's really big for our young guys to take some growth on the fundamentals and technique side of it-being very purposeful in what we're doing and some of the things that they got during the course of practice. It's really important for your entire football team. During the course of a game week, you get so much into the scheme of things. It's important to reset and get back to some of those fundamentals. Those are the inches and the things that people don't see that add up to the big things."

On how UT's wideouts will compete against LSU's secondary

"You'll see press-man at times, but you see a bunch of coverage variation from them too. Hendon's got to do a great job of identifying the rotations. Our receivers have to do the same thing. When it is man-to-man, you have to find a way to go win. You guys have seen us since we've gotten here. We're going to try to put those guys in a position to win, but we also trust those guys to go win in those situations."

On the importance of using the bye week to mentally reset after an emotional win versus Florida

"I think one of the positives about our team is that they've been really consistent in their approach. Huge win for our fan base (against Florida). I think our players reset last week and pushed forward in the things that we were asking them to do. This morning, we were full speed ahead on LSU. Really good energy. Bye week gives you a chance to physically reset and mentally reset a little bit. They had a couple days off. A bunch of them had the opportunity to go home, watch their high school football teams and be with their families. They came back late last night, and it's business as usual a little bit this morning. We have to continue to grow but I think our players are excited."

On Cedric Tillman

"Cedric did have surgery. The timeline, he did that just (because) he had an opportunity to speed up the recovery process side of it. We'll see where he's at. He was limited, but moving around a little bit today. We'll continue to see how it unfolds this week and see where we're at."

On his assessment of Jabari Small through the first four weeks of the season

"He has been good without the ball in his hands, pass protection. He has been good as a receiver when we've asked him to. I thought last week was probably his most physical running, putting his pads down, continuing to move the pile and getting plus-two after contact. We have great trust in him, and expect him to have a huge part of this game."

On what specifically Cedric Tillman needs to do to show he will be available this weekend

"He has to be able to be a functional player and play at the level that we expect him to. The level he wants to play at, too."

On the team's main focus for the upcoming schedule

"You're only as good as your next one in this game. You can continue to look at college scores. Your preparation, your competitive spirit all week, but then also on game day. There's no way in this game you can just flip a switch on Saturday, show up and play the way that you want to. Preparation is everything. Our players have gotten so much better in that, and I expect them to handle the week the right way. It's a really good football team. It will be a great environment. It's always tough to win on the road inside of this league, and this is our next opportunity."

On his thoughts on the 11 a.m. CDT kickoff time at LSU

"If you ask coaches everywhere, they say give me the earliest kickoff possible. For us, it's going to be a great environment. I'm sure it'll be a packed house. This is a tough place to play, but it's so much about us and our preparation (and) making sure that we handle things the right way. We have to take care of the football, we can't have penalties. You can't do things that hurt yourself in this football game. It's a really good team that we're playing."

On Dee Williams returning from injury and being ready to make his debut

"I feel comfortable as long as he's prepared and practiced in a way that you feel comfortable with him. Dee has been ramping it up here the last couple weeks. I expect him to be able to play in this one. I expect him to play really well when given the opportunity."

On LSU tight end Mason Taylor

"Their tight end's athletic. I think he does a really good job of finding space and being in sync with the quarterback. Targets in the middle of football field, him exiting the formation, and some of the run-pass stuff too is a huge part of what they do. We have to have our eyes on the right spot so we can cover him up."

On how much he has crossed paths with LSU head coach Brian Kelly

"I have not. This will be the first time I have played against him. He's done a really good job everywhere he has been. His teams are well coached, they compete hard. He does a really good job."

On Warren Burrell

"Warren had surgery and will be out the rest of the season."

Story originally appeared on Vols Wire

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