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5 Things learned at SEC Media Days

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It’s always a fun time when a new head coach takes the podium at SEC Media Days, and Josh Heupel was no different. Despite using typical coach speak, he revealed some key details about Tennessee football going forward and helped to answer many questions related to the program at the moment. Obviously, there are tons of questions surrounding UT right now.



In this post, we’re going to break down the biggest things we learned from the event. Now, these are things we have every reason to believe are true, not speculation like the story we wrote today about Joe Milton becoming a favorite at quarterback. We also learned nothing about all the roster turnover, as Heupel and the players were vague on that.

All of our points will be based on not just what Heupel said but what the two players who were there, senior defensive back Alontae Taylor and senior wide receiver Velus Jones Jr., also said. Let’s go ahead and dive in with the main storylines. These are the five major things we learned about Tennessee football during SEC Media Days ahead of the 2021 season.

5. Emphasis on scoring no misconception

The storyline surrounding UT hiring Heupel was his offense, as he was an offensive coordinator for the high-scoring 2017 Missouri Tigers team and then scored at will over three years with the UCF Knights. However, coming back to be a head coach in the SEC, it was legitimate to question whether or not he would be serious about that. Even the spring game could be a mirage.

Well, based on what was said at the event, scoring is a focus. Heupel did say that he wants to be physical and still focus on the line of scrimmage, but he also emphasized the need to score and made it clear that he runs an offense centered around the quarterbacks. Here’s a bit of what he said on that front.

“You look at the last three National Championships offensively, I think every team has averaged over 520 yards on offense. You look at what we’ve been able to do in our track record as a staff at the previous two stops at UCF and at Missouri, top five in basically every offensive category the last three years. The two years previous to that while we were at Missouri, led the league in total offense. This is a quarterback-friendly offense that’s going to allow us to play and apply pressure to defenses every single Saturday that we step on the football field.”

If that wasn’t enough to believe Heupel on this, Jones added to it with his own statements about the offense, touting the tempo and keeping defenses on its heels. Here’s a bit of what he said about the system.

“With my ability to catch the ball, to get yards after the catch and deep ball threat, it’s just like it’s a dream come true playing in this offense, especially speaking for my receiver corps and also my tight ends. Like we’re really excited about this offense.”

Jones also referred to the offense as “amazing.” Simply put, Tennessee football is serious about scoring a lot of points, and even if Heupel wants to be more physical and improve the defense, this will be his focus.



4. NCAA investigation still leaving program in limbo

Josh Heupel was hired because of an NCAA and university investigation into Tennessee football that resulted in Jeremy Pruitt being fired and Phillip Fulmer stepping down as athletic director. That investigation hasn’t finished yet, and while allegations are as serious as giving players cash in McDonald’s bags, nothing has come of it yet.

Right now, we don’t know if the Vols will be able to make a bowl game this year or even next year. We also don’t know how this will affect recruiting in any way. All we do know is that based on what Heupel said in an interview before he took the podium Tuesday is that there are no new updates on it right now.

Calling this a “speed bump,” Heupel seemed confident and encouraged about the future of the program, and talked about recruiting around the issue. However, he never addressed any new updates on it specifically. Here’s a bit of what he said on the matter.

“The kids that we’re recruiting and the majority of our players on campus, they’re going to be able to go chase and compete for championships once they’re on campus. I feel like we’ve positioned ourselves to swallow up any of the potential sanctions here in this first year and be able to move forward and go compete.”

That’s all nice to hear for Vol fans when it comes to the future, but everybody still wants to know what will happen this year. Heupel didn’t provide any updates on that, and the fact that he hasn’t provided any updates means there’s been no real movement, so UT is still in limbo.



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