The Tennessee Volunteers will open the 2014 season against the Utah State Aggies on Sunday night on the SEC network.
On Monday, the Aggies addressed the media to discuss their matchup with the Vols.
Here’s what they had to say about Tennessee.
Head coach Matt Wells:
(On playing Tennessee at Neyland)
We as a program, as a staff and a team, are excited to go play in as historic a venue as Neyland Stadium. Some prime players and coaches have played there. Just to go play in that checkerboard end zone is pretty cool for these kids to go in there. They’ve seen plenty of SEC games on TV and heard about them, so it’s pretty neat. Not lost is the fact that Utah State has only had one win against an SEC team, and that was before I was born. We understand what kind of challenge we’re going up against. Knowing that, we’ll prepare to play our very best
(On Justin Worley)
Justin Worley is a kid that is one of the most experienced returning quarterbacks in the league. I know they’ve had some attrition at quarterback, but the kid has had a lot of starts. This won’t be his first rodeo. He’s very accurate and can distribute the ball. He’s got a lot of guys to distribute it to
(On Tennessee’s wide receivers)
Tennessee is known as `Wide Receiver University’ and I don’t think I’d argue that. They have 11 first-round draft picks in the last 40 years, at wide receiver. That’s unbelievable. There may be four more on this roster. We talk about Marquez North. Von Pearson is a very talented slot, similar to JoJo Natson. Josh Malone, it goes without saying is tremendously talented. He had 180-some yards in the spring game with three touchdowns. He lit it up, unstoppable. The guy is Mr. Tennessee Football. That’s a big time honor in a very good state of high school football.
(On Tennessee’s running backs)
There are two Mr. Tennessee Footballs, the other being Jalen Hurd from two years ago. You watch that kid in their spring game and the guy looks like Eddie George. I mean that sincerely. He’s a tall, strong, powerful back. When he runs behind his pads, he’ll be a load to bring down. Marlin (Lane) will probably start, or at least get a lot of playing time. He’s an experienced player for them on offense. He’s a good back. I’m sure they are happy with their running back and receiver situation. That is a strength for them
(On the Vols’ defense)
You look at them on defense and A.J. Johnson is everywhere on tape. It doesn’t matter what game you pull up, No. 45 is there on the screen. The guy needs to be accounted for or he’ll be all-SEC by the end of Sunday. He’s a good player. Jordan Williams, the D-end is a good player, you see him all over the tape. The back end is led by both safeties, they’re very experienced and have played in a lot of games the last two years. That gives them, I would assume, good confidence in their defense going into a game against us.
(On former Vol Daniel Gray)
He’s played really well in camp. It will be his first start as a Utah State Aggie. I’m sure there will be mixed emotions for him going in. He needs to be able to control those and play each snap and move on and have success. He better have a short mentality at cornerback in any game. I’m sure he’ll have some mixed emotions, but he’s played well the last couple weeks of training camp. He’s known since the minute he walked in here that this was the opening game.
(On preparing for Neyland)
In a practice environment and when we close practice especially, you’re not going to have the people. We practice with music anyway. I try to push it right on the edge of breaking those speakers. We get that dial at max volume. Rocky Top has been playing, crowd noise has been playing, plus a little mix of what we usually do. We just try to concentrate that on the offense and the kicking game, but not much more than we have in the past when we’ve gone into these environments.
Running back Joe Hill
(On what stands out about Tennessee)
Based on the film that we watched from last year they were pretty big and look pretty physical. One player that stuck out to me was No. 45. He’s a good player and I feel like we have to challenge him
(On the Tennessee program)
They’ve been good in years past, but we’ve been there before with Auburn. It’s a big game, but we can’t look that much into it, you’ve just got to go out there and play at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side, it’s football at the end of the day. That’s the approach we’re taking
Linebacker Zach Vigil
(On playing at Neyland)
The biggest thing is before the game we all get to go to the stadium and that’s the time to take pictures and be a little bit in awe of how big it is and soak up the history there. When it’s game time, as soon as you walk out there, you’re going to see a sea of orange and take that in and put it away because when you’re out there on the field and all you have is each other. That’s what you have to focus on when you’re out there
(On Tennessee’s lack of experience at offensive line)
We’re going to do what we do as a defense and that’s fly around and get after them a little bit. They’re an SEC team so I’m sure the guys that they’ve brought in aren’t any slouches. They’re going to be prepared and coached well and they’re going to be big and strong and fast, so we’re going to have to be on top of our game that day.
(On Tennessee’s offense)
In my opinion they’re going to try to establish the run up front with us because they are big and talented up front and they have good running backs. The wide receivers, they’re specimens to say the least. From film that we’ve seen on them, they’re not afraid to go up and get the football. Our back end is going to have to be on top of our game. We’re going to have to try to pressure the quarterback a little bit to mess up their timing
(On former Vol Daniel Gray)
No, most of the things that I say are just to handle our business at practice, that’s the biggest thing I’ve said to him. Maybe this week now that you mention it, I’ll go talk to him, but I’m not all that concerned with what Knoxville is like or anything like that. I’m just excited to see the sea of 100,000, that will be a sight in itself
All quotes from UtahStateAggies.com