What Josh Heupel said about Tennessee's loss at Florida during Monday's press conference

On3 imageby:Grant Ramey09/18/23


Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel met with reporters Monday for his weekly press conference, looking back at the 29-16 loss at Florida Saturday night and previewing the UTSA game on Saturday (4 p.m. Eastern Time, SEC Network) at Neyland Stadium:

Opening Statement

“General Neyland probably said it best. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. We obviously did not play to that standard on Saturday. Everybody in the building is disappointed. I still sense it from the players today. The disappointment and hurt. And a lot of lessons for us to learn and we gotta learn quick. At the same time, those lessons gotta be carried forward. But we gotta watch this one too. We got a really good opponent (UTSA) coming into to Neyland this Saturday. It’s a football team that’s won a bunch of games over the last couple of years. Experienced, have playmakers. They’re big, strong on the line scrimmage, both sides football, too. So it’ll be a really good test.”

If the disappointment he’s still seeing from the loss comes from Tennessee making so many mistakes in the loss 

“Yeah, you look at it offensively in particular, self-inflicted wounds, that can be penalties, that can be unforced errors, it can be communication. Our percentage is way too high. It was on Saturday and it really was the week before too. That’s why you move the ball at times, but you don’t have very many points. And we have to clean that up. You can’t beat yourself.”

What Tennessee can do to eliminate those mistakes

“I do think you can’t let one play affect another. That certainly happened during the course of the first half in particular. Communication things just can’t transpire that way. And that’s us coaches being better, it’s players being better, it’s better upfront. At the end of the day we gotta find a solution to it. And I told the players this today too. It’s not the big things, and those are big things, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the subtle details in everything that we’re doing. Everybody can’t take their turn of being off. And we gotta become a unit that plays 11 together all of the time, defensively too. And particularly the first half. But we’re fully capable. We need to take a step forward quickly.”

If Gerald Mincey not playing on Tennessee’s offensive line Saturday was a punishment after he was cited for simple possession on Thursday

“We just decided not to play him on the offensive side of the ball.”

Why Mincey played on Tennessee’s special teams 

“We just made that decision.”

If Mincey will be available for Tennessee this week vs. UTSA

“We have a long week here. We’ll go through the week.”

If sophomore running back Dylan Sampson was available for Tennessee on Saturday at Florida

He was. He’s been a little bit nicked up, but he was available. Had plans of having him in the rotation. And I think on both sides of the football, the flow of the game in particular in the first half, we probably didn’t rotate the way we anticipated going into the football game and probably as much as we needed to.” 

How he assessed the play of Tennessee’s offensive line at Florida

“At the end of the day, just not as consistent as we needed them to be. And that’s really the entire offensive unit. I thought the wide receivers took a step in the right direction from how they performed the previous weeks. But collectively as a group, just not as consistent as you need be to go on the road, play a good team, and be able to move the football and ultimately score points. The self-inflicted wounds, that goes into how you’re scoring in the red zone too. And it’s not a game of ununlimited opportunities. You gotta maximize them. You can’t put yourself in first-and-20 and try to play ball.”

What Florida’s offense was doing to have success on third down

“We had them in some third-and-long situations too. He was able to get outside of the pocket where we don’t keep a contain on it. We don’t match things on the back end, give up two routes on the sideline when we’re sitting in a hard corner. We should be all over that. So a little bit of the run fits, guys are not completely out of the gap, but their eyes are caught in the wrong spot for a split second. They’re a step, a step and a half behind. And you give up a vertical seam.”

Players being off on certain plays and if it’s been an issue in all three Tennessee games so far

“The needle has moved on, some of it. Some of it from Week 2 to Week 3 didn’t get completely cleaned up. We gotta grow and go for our football team. And I said this, like everybody sees the big picture stuff. The small details is where this game’s gotta be won and played. And we have to get better at that.”

The importance of being able to extend plays and throw on the run for a quarterback in this Tennessee offense 

“Extended plays are a big part of any offense in today’s game because of what you’re facing up front, the pressure packages you’re inevitably gonna see. The ability to move, make plays with your feet is a part of the game. That can be tucking it and running it. That can also be extending and making plays outside of the pocket where you’re throwing the football down the field.” 

What they can do to better prepare for road noise

“We’ve done a lot of things. You need to ramp it up, I guess. And when I say I guess we can only intensify it, we gotta be able to function better than we did. Part of that is the noise part of it is being able to reset for one play to the next. That’s the hardest part to replicate during practice.”

Where Joe Milton III is in terms of running this Tennessee offense

“He did some really good things the other night. The pick, we can’t just throw it up. He’d like to have that one back. And we gotta be better in protection too in that situation. The decision making, where he’s going with the football, I said it before the game, I’ll say after the game too, he was in the right spots. Accuracy, wide receivers being exact in their routes, all those things gotta continue to improve for us to be as efficient as we need to be.”

What’s happening with Tennessee’s offense struggling on short-yardage plays

“Some of those scenarios are different as far as what happens. A lot of it, we internally have to execute what we’re doing and that’s where we’re targeting, how we’re targeting and the fundamentals of it. We have to execute better. Some of those situations, some of those things we’ve practiced those exact looks and at the end of the day, coaches and players, we gotta get to where we need to be. You have to execute on third down. Third-and-short should be a situation where you’re picking it up 90% of the time. We gotta be better in those situations.”

What UTSA has shown on film and what they look like with different quarterbacks play

“I haven’t studied a ton of them on the offense side of the football. I have watched them in recent history. The quarterback (Frank Harris) that is their starting quarterback is a special player. It’s a football team that’s won back-to-back conference championships. They’ve won 10-plus games the last two years. They’ve lost a couple of close ones this year, but they’re a really good football team. They play extremely hard, they play with really good fundamentals. They make you beat them. This is a really good football team. It’s coming in to Neyland on Saturday.”

Tennessee’s struggle in the red zone so far season

“The efficiency in the red zone, the lack of it — and it’s been a huge part of our success since we’ve gotten here — directly correlates to the self-inflicted ones that I was talking about. You can’t beat yourself. You’re playing a good opponent, like in a boxing match, they’re gonna hit you once in a while, you gotta hit back. But you can’t just give them free rein. When you put yourself in those types of situations, man, it’s really difficult to overcome. That’s true in the open field, but it’s really difficult when the field starts restricting. We’re capable of being better than we are, we gotta get there quickly.” 

What he saw from Tennessee freshman defensive back Rickey Gibson III

“Rickey went in the ball game (and) he’s somebody that is continuing to gain trust from our coaching staff. He’s athletic, he’s done a good job on special teams. Got an opportunity to play some on Saturday night on defense. I said to him today, we need him to grow quickly.”

If he’s seen a fire lit under this Tennessee team like Bru McCoy talked about Saturday night

“We’re just getting going in this week. The first thing is it better hurt and better matter. You could see that from our players yesterday and today. I think I said it earlier, at the same time, all those lessons gotta move forward, but you also gotta wash this one clean, you know what I mean? When our players come back later today, we gotta move on with the next one. That’ll be really important for us as staff and as a program.”

What led to Tennessee’s struggle to make tackles at Florida

“Defensively, there were a couple times where we got out of our gap. And when I say out of our gap, not that we’re completely missing our gap, just we’re behind. And so your linebacker being a step behind allows that double team to be thicker on the climb up on the second level and you create a vertical seam. And when I talk about the game being played in margins, those are the subtle details that I’m talking about. That happened on the defensive side of the ball and the offensive side of the ball. It’s not a complete wholesale change. We just have to be more efficient in what we’re doing. The tackling issues in particular in the first half, some poor fundamentals and a couple times were the effort’s not very good.” 

How they judge the tempo and efficiency of Tennessee’s offense, in terms of getting calls in form the sideline and running plays

“For us, like the efficiency of our tempo, we don’t ever put a stopwatch to it. It’s just how the bodies are moving. Our ability to communicate, get lined up, get our cleats in the ground, identify who we’re targeting, and all 11 guys operate in sync. You gotta be able to do that. We didn’t do it well enough, obviously, on Saturday night.”

You may also like