KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee coach Josh Heupel took to the podium Monday afternoon to recap his team’s win over Bowling Green and breakdown what’s ahead against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Heupel’s biggest concern coming out of the Bowling Green game is his quarterback play.
“A lot of it is simple execution. It’s him having eyes in the right spot, his feet being in the right position
to be accurate with the football,” said Heupel. “There were a couple of times where we hit a receiver down the field, and they’ve got to come up with the catch. Some things where wide receivers aren’t reading (the
defense) the same way that he is. A couple of things in protection where he’s scrambling.”
One position that impresses the Vols’ coach was the running game. Both Jabari Small and Tiyon Evans rushed for more than 100 yards against the Falcons. It would be just the 21st time in program history that two running backs ran for more than 100 or more yards in a single game.
“At the running back position, I thought we did a really good job of pressing the line of scrimmage and delivering second-level blocks to some of our combinations, whether it’s a center and a guard, or a guard and a tackle,” said Heupel. “I thought they bounced it well when it was right to bounce it, they didn’t just look to bounce it. I thought they finished the runs really well, trying to get plus-two out of it.”
The team will need more out of its passing game in order to win against Pittsburgh and move to 2-0.
“You want to go out and execute. The second half of that ball game is probably as poorly as we’ve executed since we started training camp, for whatever reason,” said Heupel. “We can get back and execute the way we did early in the football game.”
The Vols’ offense will have to avoid long down situations against Pittsburgh. A defense that was top 40 in the nation in total defense in 2020.
“They (Pitt) lost a couple of elite players off the edge from last year’s defense,” said Heupel. “They still got a bunch of guys that get after the quarterback. They do that in base down, first and second (down), third down. (They) have multiple schemes to try and mess with your protections and create matchups where they
can get after the quarterback. You got to do a great job of chewing up yards. You don’t want to be in third and long on these guys.”
Knoxville Catholic product Cooper Mays looks to be doing better after an injury he sustained during Thursday’s game.
“Cooper is in the building today and moving around,” said Heupel. “As the week unfolds, we’ll continue to get a better feel if he’ll be at 100 percent for kickoff.”
The Volunteers host Pittsburgh Saturday at Noon.