Tennessee won’t be great, but Josh Heupel’s debut shows Volunteers should be more fun

The Josh Heupel era started perfectly Thursday night.

Tennessee’s first-year coach strolled up to Neyland Stadium wearing orange-tinted sunglasses. Heupel’s up-tempo offense chewed up yardage quickly in back-to-back first-quarter touchdown drives, running Bowling Green ragged.

Then the second quarter arrived with a thud, a reminder that not even victories against lowly opponents will come easily for the Vols in Heupel’s first season.

The Vols should celebrate the outcome, a 38-6 victory.

A program that averaged five wins the past four years and lost to a team from the Sun Belt Conference isn’t positioned to take any victory for granted.

But let’s not ignore the opponent Thursday night.

Bowling Green was blown out in every game during a winless 2020. The Falcons are among the nation’s worst FBS programs. These are the types of opponents that should allow SEC teams to have their starters resting by the second half.

And yet, the Vols led by a single touchdown at halftime after a second quarter in which they mustered 13 yards and less than 2½ minutes of possession.

The first two quarters of the Heupel era offered a microcosm of what to expect from his offense: When the good times are rolling, it’s turbo touchdowns. But also expect a helping of warp-speed three-and-outs.

 

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