The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Tennessee Offense Expects To Put On A Show

12 days ago
Kevin Scarbinsky
Photo: Fred Daniels/SEC

Velus Jones did his homework on Josh Heupel, When Tennessee hired its new head coach, the senior wide receiver started researching Heupel's prolific fastball offenses at Central Florida.

Jones saw defensive backs busting coverages. He saw defensive linemen bending over between snaps, gassed from the tempo. He saw defensive players in general struggling "to make their calls and checks."

Jones liked what he saw.

"I'm looking forward to playing in front of 100,000 people and putting on a show with this new offense," Jones said. "It's a dream come true playing in this offense."

UCF ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring and in the top 5 in total offense during each of Heupel's three years as head coach, but his status as an offensive guru has an even longer track record as evidence. As the offensive coordinator at Missouri in 2016 and 2017, his Tigers led the SEC in total offense each season. As an Oklahoma assistant, he mentored quarterbacks Jason White and Sam Bradford as they won Heisman Trophies.

As an Oklahoma quarterback himself, Heupel finished second in the 2000 Heisman race and led the Sooners to a national championship. His resume is a treasure chest full of impressive offensive numbers.

"This is a quarterback-friendly offense that's going to allow us to play and apply pressure to defenses every single Saturday that we step on the football field," Heupel said. "Obviously, we understand that, in this league, the line of scrimmage is extremely important too, but I think the tempo on the offensive side of the ball gives us the ability to create an advantage in that aspect."

Tennessee's search to identify a starting quarterback to run the show, a competition that includes Michigan transfer Joe Milton, will carry over into fall camp.

"I think the quarterback position, it's really important that every other member of your team, offensively and defensively, see that that guy has earned the opportunity to be your quarterback," Heupel said. "When there's a bad play -- and there will be at some point -- they've got to know that's the right guy for them that's leading that football team, and that only comes through time."

It may take time for the new UT offense to get up to speed, but Jones, for one, is already sold on his new coach.

"He has an amazing personality," Jones said. "He's a real open guy. I feel comfortable going up there any time the second I need to. With Coach Heupel, he really interacts with the players a lot, always around us, whether it's tossing the football or coming in the weight room, checking on us, asking us about our personal lives, like, he's just an amazing guy. He's always involved, he's always around, you're always seeing his face, so he's a really likable guy.

"I'm so proud to go to war for that man this fall."