Everything Tennessee Vols coach Josh Heupel said after fans littered field with debris
Ole Miss defeated Tennessee 31-26 on Saturday night in Neyland Stadium.
Here is everything Vols coach Josh Heupel said after the game that was delayed after some fans littered the field with debris in protest of a call.
"First, I just want to acknowledge for the few fans, what transpired at the end and disappointed on how the game ended as things were being thrown from the crowd, but I know that’s very few of our crowd members. For most of the football games, that was an unbelievable atmosphere to see Vol Nation show out the way they did. From the Vol Walk to the stadium, to the atmosphere inside of the stadium, I thought we’re awesome. Those were two good football teams who played hard tonight. Unfortunately, we got the short end of the stick. I talked to our guys in the locker room and was disappointed because didn’t think we played smart enough in all three phases of the football game. We didn’t play smart enough to make the plays that were there for us and beat ourselves in some way. I’m not taking anything away from Ole Miss, that’s a really good football whose quarterback is a special player.”
On if he was getting explanations from the refs.
"Occasionally, I did. On Tyler Baron’s play, they said that forward progress had been stopped, and that it was a non-reviewable play. The spot was the decision they came to and the chains were being moved, and I didn’t get an explanation on it.” On Hendon Hooker’s status and what the discussion on the field was as debris was being thrown… “No update on Hendon at this point, it’s too early and we’ll find out as the weekend goes on. As far as what was being said on the field, I was thinking by how much time was on the clock and that we had three timeouts I knew the game wasn’t over. The first part about that whole situation was player safety.”
On the atmosphere tonight and how it impacts the future of this program.
“I think it’s been built by our players: there’s enthusiasm, excitement, and belief about the progress that our players are making on the field. I’m proud of them for building that, but we’re just starting our journey together. Our fanbase is passionate and prideful just like our players are. Tonight was a showcase of what Vol Nation is about. If you come down and make a turn towards Gate 21, the gallery was as deep as you could see. It was a phenomenal atmosphere that was created, and for four-and-ahalf hours, it was electric. Our fans showed out in a great way, and this is why I wanted to be here. I believe in the power of the T, this athletic department, and this fanbase. Tonight was a great showcase of that.”
On what the defense needs to do to respond to another tough quarterback next week.
“There were a lot of things that we did really well. We had some breakdowns at times. I thought we made it tough on him for most of the night. Some quarterback draws that we have to get better against. We had them in some third and longs early in the game. We have to get off the football field.”
On the defensive adjustments to contain Matt Coral’s running.
“Some of it is twist game. Some of it is awareness. Some of it is based on call and situation. He is a good player, and he puts you in a dilemma. Some of those plays were broken plays. Seeing what they were running on that side of the football, RPO option. The run wasn’t there, the throw wasn’t there, and he broke contain and made a heck of a play. He’s a good football player.”
On the effort by people stepping up when players go down this season.
“We were probably the thinnest football team in America when we started. We have way more guys injured than you would want. The fight and competitive spirit inside of our locker room, the want to play for the guy next to you because you love him, and you’re willing to do anything. We are developing and growing the right way. Those pillars inside of our program, if we keep building upon those, we are going to have a chance to have a really special program here.”
On what he found out about his team tonight.
“Defensively, you force a punt on the first drive. We dropped the punt and then gave them a short field. They capitalized offensively. I thought we did some things to stop drives and had self-inflicted wounds. Guys continued to fight and compete. We got a short field and were able to make a couple of plays and get the ball into the end zone with Cedric (Tillman). We were able to get a field goal before the half. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and obviously, we came up on the wrong side of it. I felt like the guys never felt like we were out of it, and their body language, energy, effort, strength and competitive spirit never changed during the course of the game. We continued to fight, and that’s the positive from tonight.”
On calling the game during the delay.
“Just that we were going to finish the game. I think there was concern about player safety which there should be. We were still going to find a way to finish the game.”
On Ole Miss’s defense.
“Not major overall structure difference. There is some things that they did that we did not handle protection. We got behind chains a couple of times. One drive false start, not enough guys on the field, just simple things that you just can’t do when you are playing a good football team.”
On what he was thinking during when fans threw trash.
“Player safety is one thing you are always worried about. How are you going to finish the football game. The situations that are coming up defensively and offensively. I said it at the beginning, I am disappointed that will be the story from this football game from a small amount of our fans because there were so many that represented intensity in a great way tonight.”
On how the team adjusted when Cade got hurt.
“I do not know on Cade yet. He was moving around in the locker room tonight. It is really disappointing as someone who has grown up here. He said he has been to a lot of football games in this stadium and that it is the most energetic and juicy atmosphere. I am really disappointed he only got three plays. I will assume he will be ready to play for the next one.”
On what he told his team coming out of the delay.
“We were just talking about the situation and that here is an opportunity and we need to go play. Here is what you can anticipate and what is going to be called. Let’s go out and execute.”