Vols Gear Up For Showcase Showdown With Georgia

(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Questions of Tennessee looking ahead were answered, and answered quickly, Saturday night inside of Neyland Stadium when the second-ranked Vols thrashed then-No. 19 Kentucky, 44-6. The Volunteers returned to Anderson Training Center Monday morning, beginning their buildup towards a battle on the road at top-ranked Georgia.

Both sides of the ball were on point as the offense capitalized on opportunities, the defense was stout and had a tremendous showing in pass coverage and special teams forced the issue, most notably in punt return.

With the result in the rear-view, the Vols (8-0, 4-0 SEC) have snapped their focus to the next challenge, the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0). It is challenges like these head coach Josh Heupel and his team have been preparing for, and they don’t take the opportunity lightly.

“You can win a game with confidence because you have paid the price, you have worked, you have prepared to go out and play the right way,” Heupel said in his Monday afternoon press conference. “Both teams I am sure are confident and should be. For us this week, preparation is going to be key. They are really good. You have to understand their schemes, that is important. The personnel, the battles within the battle, are going to be really important. The line of scrimmage is going to be important. It is a physical game out on the perimeter too, so on both sides of the ball, you have to match that.”

One of the biggest positives from Saturday was the defensive secondary. The Vols limited potential first round draft pick Will Levis to just 98 yards passing and snared three interceptions in the game. It was an all-around showing and one that is looking to build off a strong showing.

“You’ve heard me say it: good teams continue to get better throughout the course of the year,” Heupel continued. “That happens as a unit, but that happens because individuals take steps. We continue to get better. We have great coaches back there. Coach (Tim) Banks and Coach (Willie) Martinez do a great job in the classroom with those guys. We’ll continue to grow. Last week, we were healthier than we were the week before. I feel like this week will be the healthiest that we’ve been in a while.”

Tennessee’s surge onto the national stage is new and fresh, but the doubt and adversity members of the squad have been through is a big reason why they continue to perform at such a high-level day-in and day-out.

“A lot of guys just have a lot of talent and have so much to prove and so much to show,” redshirt-senior quarterback Hendon Hooker said at the podium Monday morning. “We have a lot of ambition as well. Going out there and playing with a chip on our shoulder day in and day out. We just always feel like we have something to prove and that just fuels us to go work hard every day.”

Going on the road to Athens, Ga. presents a unique test in its own right. Tennessee has already faced two ranked opponents on the road, Pitt and LSU, and that ground work will continue to pay dividends as the stakes increase.

“Very excited, very excited,” senior offensive lineman Jerome Carvin said. “You’re in the SEC, every time you play on the road it’s going to be a tough environment in this conference. Really excited to go down there and play. All the guys are ready to rock and roll. We’re excited. Still have to keep a level head, got to remain focused. Even with all the distractions, like I said from the crowd. We should still be good, still be mentally focused, mentally locked in and be ready to play, so excited.”

The Vols and Bulldogs are set to square off at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS in Athens. ESPN College GameDay will also be on site, highlighting the matchup between the top two teams in the country. It is UT’s third appearance on the show this season.

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