KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee Volunteers football coach Josh Heupel took the podium Monday morning to speak to the media following Saturday’s tough loss to Pittsburgh in the inaugural Johnny Majors Classic.
Heupel opened the press conference by sharing the disappointment from both players and staff in the loss — however, he did share that he thought the players played extremely hard and that this game was a good foundational piece to grow from.
Heupel was adamant that the team has to worry about itself more so than its next opponent (Tennessee Tech), and after the seven-point loss to Pitt, there’s plenty to improve on.
Everyone is aware of the struggles with penalties (13 penalties for 134 yards) and turnovers (three), Heupel brought those up as issues, but he also had a lot of positive things to say about his offense, including quarterback Hendon Hooker. He didn’t reveal who’s going to be the starter on Saturday (or moving forward).
“I thought he did some really good things from within the pocket. He stood in there and got hit on a couple of throws and delivered the ball accurately down the football field. Most of his decision-making was right. Obviously, the pick at the end and the turnover were two costly plays,” Heupel said.
“You look at what has transpired here the first couple of weeks. The quarterback has got to continue to do a better job than they have taking care of the football.”
Heupel also mentioned that it’s tough coming in after not starting because you don’t get the same amount of reps in practice. On the flip side, he talked about Joe Milton’s overthrows — he said they can’t happen, but he also talked about how he made those throws in practice.
Now, the Vols have officially moved past the Pitt loss and are focusing on the next task at hand, the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. They’ve never lost to Tenn. Tech in six meetings, so, this game won’t be about the result, but about how the Vols look as a team.
Knoxville-native Tyler Baron says this loss is different than last year’s losses — he says the team has a bad taste in its mouth. Heupel mentioned that the team played hard, but mistakes were their downfall. However, Monday is the start of a new week.
Heupel said, “just being in the team meeting and being on the field with these guys, good energy, disappointed yeah, but also being able to flip the switch and move on. Your family, your friends, your fan base is going to talk about the last one good or bad. As a competitor, you get a chance to move on and you have to move on really quickly.”
The Vols are set to face off against the Golden Eagles on Sept. 18 with a noon kickoff. You can watch that game on SEC Network Plus or ESPN Plus.