Tennessee dropped to 2-2 on the year over the weekend, dropping a road game against the Florida Gators. It was an all too familiar scene, as things eventually went south against Florida, which has now won 15 of the last 16 meetings against the Volunteers.
It’s also a potential pivot point for Josh Heupel’s year one — how will his program respond? If you’ll think back to last year, things actually started out pretty well. But a disastrous second half against Georgia seemed to spark a tailspin that ultimately resulted in a 3-7 season.
Nearly the entire SEC slate is ahead of Tennessee, but one veteran leader says that this year will be different under Josh Heupel.
“We won’t fall apart let me start off with that,” Alontae Taylor said after the Florida loss. “We are going to get closer as a team, we are going to watch film, and continue to build that bond. Come next week, we will handle that when it comes.
“One thing I will say is that we will not fall apart this year and you can quote me on that.”
Tennessee has a bounceback opportunity with a trip to Missouri up next.
It’s not all bad for the Vols, who certainly had their chances against the Gators. They had their chances against Pittsburgh, too. The trick for this team is learning how to execute consistently, something that needs to come quickly with loaded slate on the way.
The effort level and buy-in does seem to be present with this staff, and the next couple of weeks will be really interesting with winnable games up next against Missouri and South Carolina. Those come before matchups against Ole Miss, Alabama and Georgia.
As things stand, at least from the outside looking in, it’s easy to believe Taylor. The offensive scheme does appear to be successful, despite that lack of execution. The defense has been decent in spots as well. Now it’s up to these players to come together, develop and lay a foundation for Heupel’s program.