Tennessee Vols head coach Josh Heupel knows his team has a long way to go before they’re ready to compete in 2021.

“I think we’re going to continue to get more and more efficient in the pass game as we go through the summer and through training camp…Got a long ways to go” said Heupel after Tennessee’s annual Orange and White Game.

But while Heupel knows Tennessee has a lot of work to do this summer/fall, it’s hard to ignore the obvious excitement the first-year Vols head coach has when discussing some of the program’s top playmakers.

“You’ve seen (Cedric) Tillman get better every single day,” said Heupel. “You’ve seen Velus Jones get better every single day. Jalin Hyatt, who was out in the early part of spring, just nicked up a little bit. Man, the last two or three practices (he’s) really gained a great grasp of what we’re doing.”

“There are some playmakers out there and obviously we’ve got to continue to develop them,” added Heupel.

It’s not just the wide receivers that Heupel is excited about, either. He also had positive things to say about Tennessee’s running backs.

“The running back group has gotten better,” said Heupel. “The running back position, we’re starting to learn how to play with pad level. They’ve done a great job of taking care of the football all spring long. They’ve gotten better in their pass protections.”

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Heupel’s positivity is certainly a sharp departure from previous head coach Jeremy Pruitt, who rarely seemed happy after Tennessee practices.

It would be easy to suggest that Heupel’s positivity means absolutely nothing.

But I think that would be doing a disservice to the experience that Heupel brings with himself to Rocky Top.

Heupel knows what a successful offense looks like. He’s doing been doing this for over two decades as a player and a coach. He’s been part of a national championship as a player. Heupel’s coached under Bob Stoops, he’s coached in the SEC, and he has a winning record as a head coach.

This isn’t a novice that’s leading Tennessee. This is a coach that has a lot of experience when it comes to building an explosive offense.

And if he’s feeling positive about the Vols’ playmakers, it’s likely a great sign that Tennessee’s offense will be ready to make some noise this fall.

Featured images via Tennessee Athletic Communications 

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