KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee has been explosive out of the gate this season.
Throughout coach Josh Heupel’s first year, the Volunteers have outscored its opponents 148 to 44 in the first quarter. They’ve led after the first 15 minutes of play in their last three games, all against ranked opponents (Georgia, Kentucky, and Alabama) scoring double-digit points.
To double-down, the Vols scored on their opening drive in their last two games.
Looking back, it took only one play to start the scoring against No. 18 Kentucky when quarterback Hendon Hooker hit wide receiver Javonta Payton on a screen pass to open the game who took it 75 yards to the endzone.
Against No. 1 Georgia, the Vols lead in an impressive 10-play, opening drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Hooker to wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. That score was the first touchdown Georgia had given up in the first quarter all season.
Heupel said the team’s fast starts stem from how they prepare in practice.
“The group as a whole has been focused, locked in, and ready to go compete,” he said. “The way that we start our practices, the energy we try to have when the kids come up the stairs into the meeting room, all parlay into your group being ready to compete when the opening kickoff happens.”
The Vols will look to start fast again Saturday against South Alabama (5-5). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The game is being broadcast on ESPNU.