Josh Heupel praises Georgia, but says Tennessee did not play its best football

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Josh Heupel knows what championship football looks like having quarterbacked Oklahoma’s 2000 national title team and coached against Georgia his first three seasons at Tennessee.

The Vols’ head coach saw his team drop a 38-10 decision on Saturday, their first loss in Neyland Stadium since the 2021 version of Georgia beat them 41-17 in Knoxville.

Last year, in a historic battle of No. 1 teams in Athens— UT then tops in the CFP, Georgia in the polls — the Bulldogs triumphed 27-13.

Heupel was essentially asked on Saturday how this Georgia team compares to the others?

“This team has continued to get better throughout the course of the season,” Heupel said. “I don’t know how many first-round draft picks they’ll have, (but) they’re still big, long athletic, physical, and play with great fundamentals and technique.

“To do what they’ve done, you have to be a good team.”

Heupel stubbornly continued to believe in his Tennessee team’s potential and took up for them.

“Not taking anything from them, they are a really good football team,” Heupel said. “Today was not our best football. I said it earlier, this game doesn’t care, there’s no asterisks … next man has to be up and gotta go play at a championship level.”

That’s what Georgia did with freshman linebacker C.J. Allen making his career start, Dillon Bell stepping up in place of injured receiver Ladd McConkey on the perimeter and the offensive line shifting when Tate Ratledge was knocked out of the game with an injured knee in the first quarter.

Heupel took note when asked how Tennessee looked to catch up to Smart’s program.

Read more at DawgNation.

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