Vols Ready to Move Forward After Triumphant Win Over Alabama
(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Returning to Anderson Training Center following an epic, buzzer-beating victory over Alabama, the third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers turned the page to a new week of preparation for UT Martin on Monday morning.
With all the excitement and energy on campus, it created an atmosphere unlike any other in college sports. It has been one of the most impressive parts about the University of Tennessee since coach Josh Heupel assumed the reigns of the program prior to last season. Between ESPN’s College GameDay, SEC Nation, a jam-packed Vol Walk and nationally televised showdown in the premier timeslot in front of a sold-out Neyland Stadium, last weekend on Rocky Top epitomizes what makes collegiate athletics so special.
“From (Saturday) morning until the celebration on the backend, truly a really unique experience. I appreciate our fans. They were awesome all night long,” Heupel said in his Monday press conference. He noted that though the win was special, they were quick to snap to a new task at hand.
“This morning, for our players we pushed forward. For our staff, we did it yesterday when we got back in the building. Had a really good morning with the guys. Obviously, from the outside looking in everybody is excited about the win. From the inside looking forward, we have a lot of things that we have an opportunity to get a whole lot better at and the challenge for us is to become our best. We are in the early stages of that. The urgency and preparation and focus has to remain consistent and that was the message to the players.”
A big part of the Vols offense was the strong play from the offensive line. No one can attest more to the work that group has put in every practice this week than defensive lineman Omari Thomas.
“We see it all the time in our group work,” Thomas said at the podium Monday. “They are just always encouraging each other. They are always pushing each other to do better, and they always just keep coaching each other up. I feel like that’s something that they’re doing good at, they are just playing for each other, honestly.”
That is something he sees the whole team doing week-in and week-out.
“That’s what we’re trying to do as a team, just continue to play for each other.”
For many of the guys, the Alabama game will be a cherished memory shared with friends and family. For veteran tight end Princeton Fant, that was the highlight of the game. Having his mom and other people close to him in the stands and seeing him score, that is something he will never forget.
“It’s a blessing. Just my mom, that’s definitely my number one supporter and somebody I really do this for, play football for,” Fant said. “Just being able to have her there and see me score a touchdown. She’s definitely proud, and that’s the number one thing I want to do is make her proud.”
The Vols return to the practice field Tuesday morning, continuing their game prep in welcoming the UT Martin Skyhawks to Neyland Stadium for Homecoming on Oct. 22.