Following a season-opening victory over Bowling Green last Thursday, Josh Heupel took to the podium on Monday afternoon to recap last week’s win and preview this weekend’s contest against Pittsburgh.
“A lot of things that were really positive that I talked about after the game, we got a chance to see on tape as a staff,” Heupel said. “Proud of a lot of the things our players did, most importantly playing with great effort and strain. I think you saw that in all three phases of the game. A lot of our players got an opportunity to see a lot of positives on tape, some things that we’ve got to get better at, but this a great opportunity to do that here (against Pittsburgh).
“The focus this week is on Pitt. It’s really on us correcting the things that we can control. Got to control our preparation, and that started for us this morning.”
While there were certainly lots of positives in UT’s 38-6 win over the Falcons last week, Heupel and the team know there is plenty of improvement that will need to be made in order to come away with a win this Saturday against a stout Pittsburgh team.
“There were some things that we obviously have to correct in the pass game,” Heupel said. “Everybody played a part in that. Quarterback having his eyes in the right spot and delivering the ball, wide receivers understanding what we’re asking them to do and being able to read coverage and sit in the right zone, finish it with a throw and a catch, accuracy or catching the football, and then a couple of busts in protection that we need to clean up so we can sit in the pocket and deliver it.”
“They’re a well-coached team in all three phases of the game,” Heupel said in regard to the Panthers, who are led by seventh-year head coach Pat Narduzzi.
“They’re going to be tough and physical – that’s out on the perimeter and that’s inside the core, too. So, you got to be tough, you got to have strain, you got to play with a physical presence.”
Johnny Majors Classic
When the Vols and Panthers meet at noon Saturday on ESPN, they will pay tribute to a shared gridiron icon as the two programs announced the game’s designation as the Johnny Majors Classic, named in honor of the late legendary head coach and player. UT and Pitt will reciprocate the event on Sept. 10, 2022, when they meet at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Majors served two tenures as head coach at Pitt, doing so from 1973-76 and 1993-96. He spent 16 seasons as head coach of his alma mater of Tennessee from 1977-92.
“It’s unique that Coach Majors had such a huge impact on both programs,” Heupel said. “As a player and a coach, his legacy lives on here at Tennessee. He’s a part of the foundation of who we are. He’s a cornerstone of it. I think it’s a fitting opportunity to pay tribute to him from both programs. It’s unique that you have a coach that is that instrumental in two different programs, and very few opportunities that you get a chance to recognize that with both teams playing.”