What Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said after South Carolina loss

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — What Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said during his press conference after his fifth-ranked Vols were upset 63-38 against South Carolina on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium:

OPENING STATEMENT

“Obviously extremely disappointed with the performance and the outcome of the football game. It’s everybody involved. Myself to our assistant coaches to our players. Had an opportunity here and didn’t take advantage of it. Credit to South Carolina. They did play well. Just disappointing that we didn’t perform better.”

THE DEFENSE NOT BEING ABLE TO GET OFF THE FIELD

“(South Carolina has) big, strong, physical wideouts out on the outside. I felt like we would have an opportunity to match up out there. We played man, we played zone. Tried to find an answer to it. At the end of the day, we didn’t. The run game, early in the football game in particular, hit us with a little bit of a wildcat, but we anticipated some of those things. The power read got us a couple times early. But at the end of the day, we didn’t defend anything the way that you need to. And you can’t play in this league that way.”

THE STATUS OF HENDON HOOKER

“I don’t (have an update). We’ll evaluate when we get back.”

Josh Heupel: ‘This one needs to hurt on the way back’

IF THERE’S ANYTHING THEY CAN DO WITH PERSONNEL IN THE SECONDARY TO HELP THE DEFENSE

“We’ll obviously come out of this one and evaluate everything. We tried multiple guys out on the edge and some inside. But we didn’t coach or play well enough here. Anyone involved.”

HIS MESSAGE TO THE TEAM FOR WHAT’S LEFT THIS SEASON

“For us, and this program, this one needs to hurt on the way back. It needs to hurt for guys that aren’t on this trip, that will be in our building tomorrow afternoon and will be there on Monday. For us to grow as a program, you’ve got to look at this opportunity and understand what happened. Let it hurt. And remember that as you move forward. Let it help you grow.”

IF HE THOUGHT SPENCER RATTLER WAS CAPABLE OF THIS KIND OF PERFORMANCE

“Spencer is a talented guy, right? At times, when he had gotten hot, he plays hot. And he was.”

THE STATUS OF BRANDON TURNAGE

“I do not. We’ll evaluate him when we get back, too.”

IF HE SAW ANYTHING IN PRACTICE THIS WEEK THAT WOULD LEAD TO THIS KIND OF PERFORMANCE

“No, I did not. I thought our kids prepared in a pretty good way and had good practices in the lead up to it.”

Up Next: Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, SEC Network

THE MENTALITY OF THE TEAM DURING THE GAME, IF THE INTENSITY AND FOCUS WAS THERE
“I didn’t feel that (the intensity and focus slipped). Maybe a little with both sides of it. Probably the reality of the situation. The number of scores and the time on the scoreboard after the (Hendon Hooker) fumble. One of the things that has allowed us to play good football at times, whether it started fast or not during the course of the season, our guys have been calm and responding the right way. I didn’t question their want-to tonight. Obviously we didn’t put it together between defensively and offensively. Had an opportunity in the second half to pull in and tighten in. They respond and we don’t go get seven (points) and the third quarter slipped away.”

JEREMY BANKS NOT TRAVELING FOR THE GAME

“Just wasn’t available for this one. Anticipating and hopeful for next week.”

THE IMPACT MISSING JEREMY BANKS HAD ON THE DEFENSE
“I mean, we’ll go back and look at the linebacker play. But obviously, structurally, defensively, we did not play as well as we’re capable of tonight.”

TENNESSEE REDSHIRT SENIOR DL LATRELL BUMPHUS

“Just from start to finish, they did a good job executing. We didn’t do it. Obviously it shows up on the scoreboard. I think following this past week, we need to go on Monday, take the corrections and just get back to grinding.”

SPENCER RATTLER BEING SO EFFECTIVE

“At times I think we lacked getting pressure back there at him. You know, when you have all day to throw, it tends to be a lot easier.”

SEEING 63 POINTS ON THE SCOREBOARD

“It definitely hurt. I don’t know if it’s something you process right now, but it definitely hurt the hardest.”

NOT BEING ABLE TO GET PRESSURE

“I don’t think it was nothing different. Everything they did in the game, we practiced it. I just think we did a bad job of coming out there and executing, taking advantage of the moment.”

IF THERE WAS A MOMENT THIS WEEK WHERE THEY DIDN’T SEEM LOCKED IN

“I don’t recall anything. I thought we had a good week of practice. I think we didn’t come out and perform the way we expected to this week.”

DISCUSSIONS ON THE SIDELINE TRYING TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS

“Really, I think the biggest key was just bringing some more energy. Because a lot of times, it seemed like we were playing in slow motion out there and we didn’t really have any juice. Really, the biggest thing I think was just making the corrections on our missed assignments with that.”

BEING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FANS RUSHING THE FIELD

“It was something I never experienced, but I think it’s a memory you have to keep in your head going forward. It’s a feeling you never want to feel again. Use that as motivation.”

SEEING HENDON HOOKER GO DOWN

“I think first thing that went through my head was just pray, really. (Being) a guy who has gone through a lot of injuries, I know it can be very tough mentally and physically on you. So I think whatever is going on, we’ve just got to do a good job getting back in the rehab situations and keep bonding and being together.”

IF THERE WAS ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE APPROACH THIS WEEK

“I don’t recall nothing that changed up. I thought it was pretty consistent as we’ve been going through it every week. I think we had a bad night tonight. They came out on their ‘A’ game and we didn’t.”

TENNESSEE SENIOR OL JEROME CARVIN

LEADERS HELPING THIS TEAM MOVE ON WITH TWO GAMES LEFT

“It’s going to mean everything these last few weeks, if you come down to it. We’ve got to respond. It’s simply that. It’s going to be on the leaders. It’s going to be on us. We can’t let it just drop. Yes, it’s unfortunate. But we have to keep pushing. We’ve still got some ball to play. So we’ve got to keep pushing.”

SEEING HENDON HOOKER GO DOWN

“Man, it was probably one of the worst things I’ve seen out there. Just knowing how hard he works. Hardest working guy I’ve ever seen, I’ve ever played with. It’s so unfortunate to happen to a guy like that. But if I know anything, I know he’ll bounce back from it for sure. He’s a warrior. I know he will.”

IF HE GOT A CHANCE TO TALK TO HIM IN THE LOCKER ROOM

“I didn’t. I just love that kid.”

HOW HARD IT IS FOR THE OFFENSE TO FEEL LIKE THEY NEED TO SCORE ON EVERY POSSESSION

“We just have to go out there and play. If they (the defense) have a down game, we’ve got to go score points. We’ve got to put points on the board. Vice versa. We’re stalling out, defense has to give us stops. Simple as that. Doesn’t matter. You’ve got to play. It doesn’t matter what the score is, when you go out there, you’ve got to score points. We just couldn’t do that today.”

THE BIG PICTURE REMAINING FOR THIS TEAM

“Man, we’re not worried about (losing out on the College Football Playoff) right now. Honestly, just reflect on the loss, move on and move forward. Get ready for Vanderbilt coming next Saturday.”

JEREMY BANKS BEING ABSENT FROM THIS ROAD TRIP, TRYING TO HELP GET HIM BACK

“No doubt. Just everybody on the team, we’ve got to respond. Simple as that. He’s going to make a lot of plays for us. He’s going to be a very good player for us. We’re going to need him. He’s going to play well for us.”

SOUTH CAROLINA FANS STORMING THE FIELD

“We had an idea (it was going to happen). Other than that, you just try to get out of there. Get out of the situation. Make sure everyone is safe. Everyone from equipment guys to support staff. Make sure everyone is safe. Everyone did get through safe that I know of.”

NOT HAVING AN ANSWER IN THE LOSS

“Man, it’s tough. You train so hard for a ballgame. These are one-game seasons. You try to put everything into this one game. Things just didn’t go our way. We’ve got to get better in all three phases. Man, we just came up short tonight.”

CONVERSATIONS ON THE SIDELINE WHEN THINGS WEREN’T GOING WELL

“You’ve got to keep a plan, simple as that. You can’t get down on a drive. The drive stalls out, you can’t reflect on the problems, you move forward. You can’t reflect because it will affect plays moving forward. You’ve got to keep pushing.”

WHY HE THINKS TENNESSEE DIDN’T HAVE ANSWERS

“Honestly, they had a good game plan for us. They gave us their best shot. We didn’t respond. Simple as that. When you play in games like this, you have to respond. You have to find answers. And we weren’t able to do that tonight.”

TENNESSEE REDSHIRT SENIOR TE PRINCETON FANT

NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND ANSWERS IN THIS GAME

“Adversity hit us. Coach talks about it all the time. What are going to do when adversity hits? Tonight we needed an answer. Still proud of these guys. Still proud of this offense. We have to regroup for next week, Vanderbilt. We still got a game on schedule. We have to go out there and compete.”

HIS LEVEL OF CONCERN WITH HENDON HOOKER

“We’re all definitely concerned. That’s our brother. That’s our quarterback that we believe in in this offense. He’s in our prayers tonight. We’re praying for him.”

SURPRISES FROM THE SOUTH CAROLINA DEFENSE

“I don’t really think anything surprised us. We prepared the right way, I feel like. Just like I said, adversity hit us and we just needed to respond, too.”

PLAYING WITH A LEAD MOST OF THE YEAR, NOT RESPONDING TO PLAYING FROM BEHIND IN THE LOSS

“We really can’t control how the game goes. We went out there, we made some plays. Got back into the game. Adversity hit us again. So it just goes back to adversity when it hits. We need to respond back to it.”

CONVERSATIONS ON THE SIDELINE DURING THE LOSS

“Just trying to keep each other up. Trying keep guys motivated, in it. Not letting guys get down. Leaders stepping up, being leaders on the sideline. Yelling at everybody, coaching everybody up. Making sure everybody is good, too. I’m on the sideline as well. Leaders trying to keep us up, keep us focused on the game.”

KEEPING THIS TEAM UP WITH MORE TO PLAY FOR

‘We understand we’ve still got a lot to play for. Just keeping these guys in it, keeping the young guys focused, keeping some of the older guys, the veterans, focused as well. Just all staying together as a team and staying focused on the goal we want to accomplish. I’m still proud of these guys. It was a tough loss tonight. We just have to keep everybody up, everybody going for next week.”

JOE MILTON III’S GROWTH AS A QUARTERBACK

“Joe Milton is a great player. He’s a brother as well. Me and Joe, we talk all the time, actually .We talk about things like this all the time. He gets time to go in and shine. We believe in Joe as an offense. And I feel like he’s really going to step up in that role, whatever happens. Just ready for it. We’re going to go with it.”

IF THERE WERE ANY DIFFERENCES IN PRACTICE

“Not at all. We had a great practice all week. Competed, went out there every day and worked. We can’t control what happens. But adversity hit us. We needed to respond to it.”



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