Tennessee Vols morning report: Josh Heupel’s last presser before Florida

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Happy first Friday of Fall for 2021. The Tennessee Vols football team gets to kick off SEC play for the final weekend of September. It’s the first conference game, the first road game and the first game against a ranked team for Josh Heupel as head coach of UT.

Our morning update on Rocky Top leads with Heupel previewing that game one more time with e press conference on Thursday. Beyond football, though, we have coverage of something related to the overall athletics program based on an SEC decision that was made Thursday. Another scheduling update is also in the works.

There are numerous other events for us to cover and recap this weekend as well, including a recap in women’s soccer, coverage of ongoing events in men’s and women’s tennis and previews for cross country and volleyball. Let’s start with the football press conference.

Josh Heupel meets with media ahead of SEC opener – Ryan Callahan, GoVols247

For the final time this week, Tennessee Vols football head coach Josh Heupel met with the media Thursday to discuss his program’s SEC opener at the Florida Gators Saturday. Here’s a bit of what he said.

"“First road game, so all the little things are certainly going to matter. Communication’s going to be really critical, in particular on the offensive side of the ball.”"

Softball releases 2022 scheduleUTSports

On Thursday, the SEC released the 2022 slate for every softball program. The Tennessee Lady Vols will be led solely by Karen Weekly but without Ralph Weekly for the first time ever.

"Tennessee’s 2022 regular-season schedule includes two home tournaments, three road tournaments, seven midweek contests and eight SEC weekend series. Game times and television assignments will be announced at a later date."

Soccer defeats Auburn in overtime – Ken Lay, VolsWire.com

A week after losing their first game of the year, a 3-1 heartbreaker in their SEC opener at the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Tennessee Lady Vols defeated the Auburn Tigers Thursday night to improve to 8-1. Auburn, meanwhile, fell to 7-2.

"An overtime goal by Brooke Wilson propelled Tennessee to its first Southeastern Conference victory of the 2021 season Thursday night.Wilson scored her fourth marker of the campaign in the 101st minute of the No. 17 Lady Vols’ 2-1 victory over No. 11 Auburn before an announced crowd of 830 at Regal Soccer Stadium."

Tennis dominates first day of ITA Regionals – WeAreCollegeTennis.com

With three of four singles wins and one of the two doubles wins, the Tennessee Vols men’s tennis team had a strong showing on the first day of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Ohio Valley Regional Championships Thursday. Play resumes Friday and will last through Monday.

"Over 8,000 student-athletes from NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA, Junior and Community Colleges compete across 85 ITA Regional Championships around the country. In Division I, regional doubles champions and regional singles champions and finalists qualify for the season-ending ITA National Fall Championships."

Women’s tennis struggles on first day of College Ranked Spotlight +1 – GoPack.com

In four doubles events Thursday, the Tennessee Lady Vols tennis program only one one event at the College Ranked Spotlight +1. Play resumes Friday and will last through Sunday at the event, which is hosted by the N.C. State Wolfpack and includes 13 teams.

"Of those 13 teams, 12 finished the 2021 dual match campaign ranked in the national top 30.There will be two singles draws, with each including a back draw, and the doubles teams will be divided into four pods."

Cross Country to begin Roy Griak Invitational – Gophersports.com

The Tennessee Vols men’s and women’s cross country programs travel to St. Paul, Minn. Friday to take part in the Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by the Minnesota Golden Gophers. There are eight races at the event with 21 teams on each side. UT is sending 10 runners on the men’s side and eight runners on the women’s side.

"The Roy Griak Invitational not only stands as one of the nation’s premiere cross country meets, it also honors Coach Griak and his immeasurable contributions to the sport and the University of Minnesota. Since its beginning in 1986, the event has grown from two Division I races in its inaugural form to now boasting eight races for Division I, Division II, Division III and high school student-athletes and programs."

Volleyball to open SEC play this weekend – Nate Tosado, UT Daily Beacon

At 8-2 and coming off a loss to the Purdue Boilermakers last week, the No. 21 ranked Tennessee Lady Vols volleyball program will host the Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend to begin SEC play. The first match is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, and the next one is set for Sunday at Noon ET.

"The Razorbacks(10-2) look to extend their two-game winning streak after taking down LSU in 4 sets Wednesday. The last time these two teams met was back in 2020 where they split the series 1-1 in Fayetteville, Arkansas."

SEC announces academic awards – SECSports

Amidst the new ruling on NCAA NILs, the Southeastern Conference has begun the process of allowing rewards for academic accomplishments. League presidents and chancellors voted to allow member institutions to hand out such rewards Thursday.

"The Alston decision granted universities the opportunity to provide student-athletes with additional education-related benefits such as computers, science equipment and musical instruments, along with direct financial support in the form of academic achievement awards, up to the legally established maximum of $5,980 per year.While the Alston decision allows individual conferences to set limits on the new educational benefits, the SEC’s presidents and chancellors have elected not to place additional constraints on Conference members in determining how to provide this new support to their student-athletes."