~ from UTAD
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Ahead of the Vols’ trip to South Carolina this weekend, Tennessee football head coach Josh Heupel held his weekly Thursday press conference to wrap up media proceedings for the week. With a 10-win regular season in sight, the No. 5 Volunteers (9-1, 5-1 SEC) head to a sold-out Williams-Brice Stadium for an SEC East matchup with the Gamecocks (6-4, 3-4) Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
In last year’s meeting with South Carolina, the high-octane Vols debuted their “Dark Mode” alternate uniforms, raced out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 45-20 victory inside Neyland Stadium. Heupel was asked Thursday about the importance of getting out to another fast start against the Gamecocks this weekend, which has been a signature of the offense since he took the helm on Rocky Top 22 months ago.
“That’s something that we talk about and want to do in every football game,” Heupel said. “All offseason, we talked about starting fast, finishing strong. If it doesn’t, I think it’s important that your kids settle back into the ball game and understand that’s okay. It’s a 60-minute game. No matter how it starts, what it looks like in the middle, you have to continue to put on more steam. It’s one of the maxims, one of the things that we talk about all the time. We’d love to, but let’s go play football for 60.”
The Big Orange will don a fourth alternate uniform of the season this weekend as UT is set to debut a Tennessee orange helmet for the first time since 1948. From 1937-48, the Volunteers wore tan-orange leather helmets before plastic helmets became the norm in the late 1940s.
Selected by the 2022 squad’s leadership council, the new orange helmet features a white Tennessee ‘Power T’ logo decal on either side with a solid white stripe down the middle and a white facemask. Heupel was asked Thursday about his thoughts on the alternate looks the Big Orange have donned this year and his appreciation for the traditional combinations.
“I get excited for the kids when they’re excited about it,” Heupel said. “Our classic uniforms are as good as there is. Love them. I think our players, and recruits, but our players love being able to put a twist on things. This week, the orange helmets, they wore them a week ago just trying to break them in. When they saw that, there was some excitement from them. I think it’s awesome. These were worn a long time ago, but it’s still part of our tradition (and) being able to celebrate that. When, players get a chance to be a part of picking things out—our leadership council was a part of picking these out last spring—a lot of excitement from them.”