Following an all-around 40-13 victory at No. 25 LSU, the sixth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers returned to Anderson Training Center Monday morning to begin prep for a top-10 showdown with No. 3/1 Alabama, who comes to Rocky Top on Saturday.
The excitement and buzz for the game is building around the country. ESPN College GameDay announced that it was making its return to Knoxville Saturday morning, coming for the second time in as many home games. With so much noise around the program, members of the team have been able to keep perspective and understand what is important, focusing on the task at hand.
“We really just take it as a grain of salt, not getting too high, not getting too low, just staying even-keeled and making sure we’re doing our job every day,” redshirt senior quarterback Hendon Hooker said.
That is a feeling that is reiterated by his head coach. Control what you can control, that is the message coach Josh Heupel has told his team. Trust in the preparation that gets you to the field.
“The expectations that we should be concerned about are our own expectations,” Heupel said in his press conference Monday afternoon. “The reason our kids have gotten and continue to build and get better is because they’ve paid attention to the things that matter. This week, we have to prepare the right way. We have to practice well, and the playing part of it will take care of itself. The outside noise has no bearing on how we play. Let’s go compete and be our best on gameday.”
Heupel is proud of what his team put on the field down in Baton Rouge. It is a collective effort among guys who want to play for each other, and that is what winning programs are built on.
“We were playing well,” Heupel said. “That’s what it comes down to, so it’s not about me. We have a full locker room of 125 guys and a great staff. The way that we have continued to grow, the way that we continue to compete, strive to get better; it’s why we are playing the way we are. We have to have a great week this week.”
Tennessee and Alabama are set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff on CBS. 2023 season tickets are also on sale now and can be purchased at AllVols.com.