Josh Heupel previews Tennessee-Kentucky

No. 3 Tennessee (7-0, 3-0 SEC) will host No. 17 Kentucky (4-1, 2-2 SEC) Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Week 9.

Kickoff between the Vols and Wildcats is slated for 7 p.m. EDT (ESPN).

“Big ball game this Saturday, really good opponent,” second-year Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel said Monday.

“They play well in all three phases of the game. The next part of this journey for us is a big one.

Got started with our preparation this morning. Unique in this one that they have had two weeks of preparation.

Our players got to have a real sense of urgency here this week and get prepared to go play our best football.

“Obviously, coming off of Saturday’s performance, there were a lot of really good things.

There are some things we have to clean up, too.

Our players got a chance to see that and talk through it this morning, in particular, our young guys that got action in the second half just continuing to grow — and being ready to play when their opportunity comes.”

On position groups that have been most improved “I wouldn’t single out one or two position groups. I think as a football team we continue to get better week by week.”

On the status of Cedric Tillman and Jaylen McCollough “Cedric (Tillman), we’ll continue to evaluate here as he goes through practices this week. Jaylen (McCollough), you guys saw that the campus part of his process is complete and so now it is just the other part of the process.”

On if there is an update on QB Tayven Jackson's injury “Tayven (Jackson) won’t be available this week. He’ll be out.”

On Elijah Simmons' injury status “We’ll see throughout the course of the week, but I think he’ll be available.”

Next is a transcript provided by the University of Tennessee of Heupel’s continued preview of playing Kentucky. On last year's win over Kentucky and if teams have a psychological hurdle they need to clean to be successful in big games “I don’t believe that there was a psychological hurdle that our program had to get over. It was a preparation/performance hurdle that we had to get over. 

Next is a transcript provided by the University of Tennessee of Heupel’s continued preview of playing Kentucky. That was a big win for us as a program to be able to go do that on the road. You saw the excitement from our players at the end of that ball game just as we were beginning that journey last year.

Next is a transcript provided by the University of Tennessee of Heupel’s continued preview of playing Kentucky. It was one of the steps, one of the hurdles for us to prepare the right way, practice the right way and then go out and execute. It led us to play the way we did on the back half of the season.”

On Kamal Hadden's availability “All the guys that were nicked up, we’ll find out their availability here on the back end of the week. Should have just said that at the beginning.”

On uniqueness of Tennessee having so many rivalry games “It is (unique). 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. Certainly, neighboring states here, this is a big football game. 

On uniqueness of Tennessee having so many rivalry games 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.”

NEXT STORY

Tennessee's 2023 football schedule announced