Forget about black jerseys. Tennessee football learns offense can sell
Forget about black uniforms, shorter beer lines, LED lights, ticket prices, and a party platform.
Do you know what will bring Tennessee football fans back to Neyland Stadium?
Points, points, points.
Oh, and win – preferably by a lot of points.
The Vols beat South Carolina 45-20 on Saturday. A week earlier, they had routed Missouri 62-24. That’s 107 points in two SEC games, with 1,155 total attacking yards.
Win or lose is fun to watch. But it’s especially fun in the wins. Thank coach Josh Heupel for knowing what is selling.
“I hope (the fans) will enjoy it,” Heupel said. “Offensively, yeah, we’re probably a little different from what’s been happening (the last few seasons at UT). But defense too, man, (we have) the ability to be multiple and aggressive.
“Our children are very competitive. I think this is the first step in making this fan base and this state extremely proud of who we are on the football field.
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UT announced a crowd of 89,437 for the South Carolina game. It’s the biggest of the season, but there is still room to increase attendance to the mind-boggling proportions of the past.
More fans will come if the Vols continue to play this brand of football at this high level, regardless of the amenities added to the match day experience.
“I like to see the touchdowns”
Do not mistake yourself. First-year athletic director Danny White is expected to do whatever he can off the pitch to improve the game day experience. And, indeed, he’s not sitting on his hands.
White announced that Neyland Stadium has added more servers and beer stands, starting from the South Carolina game, in response to fan complaints about the long lines.
LED lights and more fireworks have been added to home games this season.
The Vols wore black uniforms for the first time since Halloween 2009, and Heupel said he’s adopting alternate looks because it’s good for recruiting, player experience and fan engagement. White, obviously, signed the black uniforms.
A party platform and the West Club will debut next season as part of a Neyland Stadium renovation plan started before White’s arrival. And a ticket re-pricing plan is supposed to make season tickets fairer for all fans and cheaper for some in 2022.
White wants Neyland Stadium to be packed, and his plans have that in mind. But his decision to hire Heupel is also part of it.
“I love to see touchdowns,” said White, standing near the Tunnel of Flights moments after another runaway victory. “It’s a fun style of play. This offense is fun to watch. And I’m delighted that our players are performing it the way they are and that the fans can enjoy it. “
Unless Al Wilson is on the roster, win on offense
There are other ways to win at UT, and that evidence was sidelined.
Former Vols linebacker Al Wilson, recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, was honored during the game in South Carolina. He was the heart of the 1998 national title squad, which scored 40 or more points on four occasions, but built largely on defense.
These Flights have entertained in a way. But that was another era of college football, especially in the SEC. And there is no Al Wilson on this list.
These Flights entertain in another way. And the better they stick to the football brand of Heupel, the more must-watch this team will be.
Against South Carolina, the Vols scored four touchdowns in the first quarter for a second straight game, including two in 46 seconds of playing time. It looked like Pride of the Southland were still playing the celebratory song “Rocky Top”. one touchdown when Flights scored another.
“Scoring is fun,” wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. said. “It’s an incredible feeling. Everyone is smiling. And you can just feel the energy. I love that feeling so we have to keep scoring.
UT has scored 249 points in six games, already surpassing 215 points scored in 10 games last season under Jeremy Pruitt.
And Heupel is now only the second coach in Vols history to score 40 or more points in three of his first six games. The other is Lane Kiffin, who will bring her No.17 Ole Miss juggernaut from an offense at Neyland Stadium next Saturday.
Want butt in the seats? Put dots on the board.
Oh, and that Kiffin guy coming to town should help out with the assistance.
Contact Adam Sparks at [email protected] and on Twitter @AdamSparks.