Tennessee Vols morning report: Josh Heupel previews Week 1 of 2022

Tennessee fans cheer during an SEC football game between Tennessee and Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.Kns Tennessee Ole Miss Football
Tennessee fans cheer during an SEC football game between Tennessee and Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.Kns Tennessee Ole Miss Football /

Preparations for the Tennessee Vols football opener against the Ball State Cardinals are underway. Week 1 has begun, and all that we know and love about the college football season is back. There’s never a more exciting time to be around UT than right now, and with the opener on a Thursday, the butterflies are even larger.

Our morning update on Rocky Top leads with all the Week 1 media rounds that took place Monday. Press conferences involving players and the head coach both made news, and we’ll recap what they all said that is most relevant to the program going forward.

Beyond football, there wasn’t a lot of news, but an official SEC preview in cross country also came out, so we’ll touch on that as well. Simply put, it’s all about fall sports with this update, so let’s go ahead and dive into the news. We start with the football press conferences.

Josh Heupel discusses Week 1 – Grant Ramey, GoVols247

Ahead of the Tennessee Vols’ Thursday night matchup to begin the 2022 season, head coach Josh Heupel met with the media Monday for his weekly in-season press conference. Heupel said the team is fully healthy and talked about the need to build more depth this year, starting with the opener. However, here’s how he compared it to this time last year.

"“I do believe we are a more mature football team. I am saying that because of how they have handled everything since we have gotten back in January. The issues from day to day are so different than they were from a year ago because our players are different.”"

Cedric Tillman, Jacob Warren, Omari Thomas speak – Brent Hubbs, VolQuest

In addition to Josh Heupel, Tennessee Vols wide receiver Cedric Tillman, tight end Jacob Warren and defensive tackle Omari Thomas all spoke with the media Monday. Tillman talked about his confidence compared to last year. Here’s a bit of what he said.

"“I have always had confidence in myself and have known what I can do. This year there have been a few things I have changed preparation wise, but I am excited about the season and have all the confidence in the world. Whatever I can do to help my team win is what I plan to do.”"

Warren, who will co-start with Princeton Fant, talked about how he has improved his game over last year. This is what he said on that front.

"“I think I’m a lot better at defensive recognition, so understanding coverages, understanding why safeties are rolling and understanding that if a guy is in the box, that I’m matched now or I’m getting played man. Versus if I see this corner sitting in the flat, I know I’m unmatched and I have to do this on my route.”"

Thomas is the main defensive tackle now with Matthew Butler gone. Here’s what he said he expects from the defense in the opener.

"“I expect us to come out and play with our hair on fire. Play hard, play fast and just, like I said, focus on the small details.”"

SEC preseason cross country picks out – SECSports

The Tennessee Vols men’s cross country team has been picked to finish third in the SEC, while the women are picked to finish tied for sixth. Their season begins Friday with the Tennessee Cross Country Invitational.

"The Alabama men garnered six first-place votes, Arkansas had five and Tennessee had one. The Alabama women received eight first-place votes, and Arkansas received six first-place votes."