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Josh Heupel breaks down strategy on game-winning drive vs Alabama

Steve Samra10/17/22
Article written by:On3 imageSteve Samra

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Marvin Gentry/Getty Images

The drive that led to Tennessee capturing victory over Alabama last Saturday will live on in Knoxville for generations, but what was going through the mind of Volunteers coach Josh Heupel during it?

Joining SEC This Morning, Heupel broke down the strategy on the game-winning drive that led to a game-winning, streak-snapping field goal, and landed the goal post at Neyland Stadium in the river.

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“Obviously situational football. Needed to have an opportunity to pick up a couple of chunk plays to give us a chance to get into field goal range. You don’t hit one of those chunk plays, obviously you’re going to try a desperation Hail Mary into the end zone,” elaborated Heupel. “Things that we talk about, that we work during the course of the week. Our kids were prepared for it. Really good protection up front. We executed out on the perimeter.

“Two huge catches by Ramel Keyton and obviously a contested catch by Bru McCoy. Hendon [Hooker] did a great job of executing, reading it out and the last one, stepping into contact and throwing a strike. Our field goal unit went out there and Chase [McGrath] hits a big one to finish it off.”

Alas, the three-play, 45-yard drive began at the Tennessee 32 with only 15 seconds remaining on the clock, following a 50-yard missed field goal by Alabama kicker Will Reichard. As Heupel harkened back to, Hooker began the drive with an 18-yard strike to Keyton, then completing a 27-yard pass to McCoy to set up a 40-yard field goal attempt.

It knuckled, it was ugly, and it was oh so close to being short, but the Volunteers willed McGrath’s kick through the uprights for the victory.

Regardless of what happens moving forward, Josh Heupel, Hendon Hooker and company will always be revered for last weekend’s victory over Nick Saban’s vaunted Alabama squad. However, it’s a sure bet that the Volunteers have already moved on, championship aspirations on their mind for the remainder of 2022.