Skip to main content

Josh Heupel breaks down matchup problems Xavier Legette presents

Barkley-Truaxby:Barkley Truax09/28/23


Tennessee Football Head Coach Josh Heupel Talks For Final Time Before Vols Battle South Carolina

Xavier Legette has been on South Carolina’s offense since 2019, but only now are the Gamecocks benefitting from his services. He’s become one of the SEC’s most dynamic players, which proves an immense issue for Tennessee this weekend.

Head coach Josh Heupel used the words “Athletic,” and “Playmaker,” to describe the fifth-year senior.

“We have to do a great job and that takes all 11,” Heupel said of the game plan to stop Legette after practice on Thursday.

Legette put up career numbers in 2022 with 18 receptions for 167 yards. Those numbers have been far eclipsed through four weeks in 2023, and enters the game vs. Tennessee as the SEC’s leading receiver with 556 yards and three touchdowns.

While Legette poses an immense threat to Heupel’s defense, Tennessee’s wide receivers are progressing nicely and prove to be a threat against the South Carolina secondary. Heupel name-dropped two up-and-coming guys that he sees as vital pieces to the wide receiving corps moving forward.

“I feel good about Kaleb [Webb] but feel good about Chas [Nimrod], you know what I mean? The young receivers are going to continue to get better,” Heupel said. “They’ve played important roles on special teams, have made plays. Kaleb was involved in a fake punt stop and picks up a touchdown a couple plays later [against UTSA], so I feel good about all those guys and their continued development.”

Meanwhile, Ramel Keyon, Bru McCoy and Squirrel White have occupied the top spots in Heupel’s wide receiver lineup as the only wideouts on the roster to haul in at least 100 yards so far this season.

Elsewhere out wide, Dont’e Thornton is starting to catching his groove offensively having caught seven receptions for 89 yards this season. Heupel is looking to add him into his offense more often in the coming weeks.

“He is, absolutely,” Heupel said about how the Oregon transfer is coming along. “There’s consistency in some of the things that he can continue to grow in. Love his demeanor, effort, energy, focus, preparation, all that stuff.”

With the passing game being emphasized for both programs, Saturday’s matchup will have major implications in the race for second place in the SEC East. Both Tennessee and South Carolina are looking to occupy the spot behind Georgia.

Kickoff between the Gamecocks and Vols is scheduled for Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET live on the SEC Network. Tennessee is an 11.5-point betting favorite at home, per Vegas Insider, with the over/under total set at 63.5.