Vols Gear Up For Prime Time Showdown With Kentucky

(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers returned to Anderson Training Center Monday morning and kicked off the week of practice with a prime-time battle against No. 19/17 Kentucky looming on Saturday, October 29, at Neyland Stadium.

It was a team effort for the Volunteers (7-0, 3-0 SEC) in their last game against UT Martin. Eighty-six different student-athletes took the field for the Big Orange while six freshmen made their collegiate debuts against the Skyhawks. The record-breaking offense did what it does best: break records, shattering the record for points scored in a half in the modern era (1933-present) with 52 in the first two quarters.

Hendon Hooker set a record himself, passing for a touchdown in his 19th consecutive game, surpassing Heath Shuler’s previous high-water mark of 18 in a row from 1992-1994. Hooker spoke to local media Monday afternoon and discussed what has allowed the passing attack to be so dynamic this season.

“Battling through different adversities, being on the same page and having chemistry and gelling, all that comes into play through the time we spent this offseason,” Hooker said, speaking about how he has connected so well with each of his receivers this season. “How much more work we have put in this offseason, knowing and being more comfortable in this offense and knowing what the coaches want to see in different situations has definitely benefited us.”

Head coach Josh Heupel also stepped up to the podium and discussed how his group has been able to lean on its leaders to continue the daily growth and preparation the Tennessee ball coach has emphasized day-in and day-out.

“We’re still in the beginning stages of this journey, really the halfway point,” Heupel said. “For us, the preparation, being real with each other, competing every day is going to be critical. It’s critical today, this morning. It’s critical tomorrow when we get back out on the grass. So far, these guys have handled it the right way. There are still things that we pointed out today, not just on the field performance, but in our preparation that can be better. Accountability to one another in this program is going to be important as we keep going.”

Being at Tennessee, Heupel has been able to see the passion and excitement the fan base has towards every single game. In the Southeastern Conference, every game means something, if not more. Each game has a different meaning to a different person, and that makes each week exciting, the stakes that are on the line each and every game.

“You talk to different generations of Tennessee fans, and you’re going to get a different answer as far as what the big game is,” Heupel said, discussing this week’s showdown with Kentucky. “Certainly, neighboring states here, this is a big football game. I think it’s unique that there are so many of them that get circled by the fanbase. It’s a great thing about being here, is that you’re going to play in a bunch of big games.”

The Vols will be back at it tomorrow at Haslam Field. Tennessee and Kentucky (5-2, 2-2 SEC) are set to square off at 7 p.m. ET inside of Neyland Stadium on ESPN. Tickets to the contest are sold out.

Categories: Sports – Local Sports News, Sports – UT Vols