Vols get ready for Homecoming tilt vs. UConn

Published 5:55 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Fresh off a gritty, 33-27 victory at Kentucky this past Saturday, Tennessee turned its thoughts to Saturday’s Homecoming contest and non-conference finale against the UConn Huskies.

As the No. 19 Vols (6-2, 3-2 SEC) continued to gear up for the Huskies (1-7), defensive coordinator Tim Banks and offensive coordinator Joey Halzle addressed the media on Tuesday — shedding light on the tenacious mindset that contributed to the win in Lexington and previewing the upcoming matchup against UConn.

Banks’ defensive front has been stout against the run all season, ranking third in the SEC and 19th nationally in rushing defense (105.1), as well as third in the league and 11th in the FBS in tackles for loss (7.6 per game). Most recently at Kentucky, UT limited the Wildcats to 72 yards on the ground for their second lowest rushing output of the 2023 campaign.

Email newsletter signup

“Stopping the run is a mentality,” Banks stated. “It’s physicality, it’s obviously guys fitting their gaps, and everybody has to play their part … Typically, when we’ve been good against the run, we’ve come out on top. That’s just kind of something that we believe in.”

On the offensive front, coordinator Joey Halzle emphasized the need for focus and resilience as the Vols prepare to face the UConn Huskies. With three consecutive SEC Eastern Division opponents still remaining on the schedule (at Missouri, Georgia, Vanderbilt), Halzle warned against overlooking any opponent in college football and emphasized the importance of constant growth.

“Everybody is good,” Halzle said. “We’re at the point now where we’re trying to make a push down the stretch here. Every game matters as far as, how are we still building? Coach Heupel preaches it every day. You have to still be getting better this time of year. If you’re getting better this time of year, it doesn’t matter who is standing across the ball from you … It’s a huge weekend for us as far as taking that next step forward.”

After securing bowl eligibility on the road, Tennessee returns to a sold-out Neyland Stadium looking to continue building momentum into the final third of the regular season. The UConn game will also serve as a chance to honor the legacy of the late legendary coach Pat Summitt with a special commemorative cup available for purchase at concessions stands benefitting Alzheimer’s research. November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and a $1 of every Summitt cup sold throughout Neyland Stadium on Saturday will go directly to support Alzheimer’s research at The University of Tennessee Medical Center.