Sep. 16—Tennessee first-year football coach Josh Heupel didn't take long Thursday when asked where he wanted to see the most improvement between last weekend's 41-34 home loss to Pittsburgh and this Saturday's expected mismatch against Tennessee Tech inside Neyland Stadium.
"The obvious thing is penalties, and the next thing is turnovers," Heupel said in his final news conference of the week. "Those are both areas we need to be better at once we get into conference play. You can't lose the turnover battle every week, and then you can't lose the field position and you can't change the way the game is played, in particular on third down, with penalties.
"We've got to get better in those two areas."
The Golden Eagles, who have been outscored by Samford and Furman by a combined 78-14 out of the gate this season, could help the Volunteers remedy both predicaments, and a remedy is certainly needed.
Having lost five turnovers through two games and without gaining any, Tennessee ranks dead last among the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision programs with a minus-2.50 turnover margin per contest. It's only slightly better on the penalty front, with Tennessee's nine penalties per game ranking 119th and its 89.5 penalty yards per game ranking 124th.
"It's been disappointing," Vols freshman safety Christian Charles said. "Flags are always the easiest way to hurt you. We've got to do a better job of playing with technique and not shooting ourselves in the foot."
Heupel did not provide any specific injury updates Thursday regarding quarterback Joe Milton, receiver Jalin Hyatt, and running backs Jabari Small and Tiyon Evans.
After sitting out Tennessee's 38-6 opening win over Bowling Green, receiver Jimmy Calloway had quite the start to his sophomore season with three catches for 59 yards and a touchdown against Pitt. His score occurred from 44 yards out down the sideline, which pulled Tennessee into a 20-20 tie late in the second quarter and served as the first impact play for backup quarterback Hendon Hooker.
"I think I did pretty well making plays," Calloway said afterward, "but I could have done better with my details."
Now the question becomes whether the 6-foot, 190-pounder from Morrow, Georgia, can use that performance as a stepping stone to bigger and better Saturdays.
"He grew as a receiver dramatically during the course of spring ball," Heupel said. "He missed a portion of training camp and has continued to come back from that. He's got all the attributes that we're looking for, and I think learning to continue to grow from the end of the previous play and the whistle to the next snap is something he's got to get better at.
"We believe that he's got a really bright future as a player."
How to view
Tennessee's game with the Golden Eagles will have a noon kickoff and will have ESPN+ and SEC Network+ as the viewing options.
ESPN+ is a standalone streaming service that requires a subscription separate from your TV provider credentials. Streaming is available through the ESPN app on your connected streaming device and on ESPN.com.
SEC Network+ is complementary to the SEC Network and is accessible with your TV provider credentials. It can be accessed through the ESPN app on smartphones, tablets, connected streaming devices or via espn.com/watch.
This will be Tennessee's lone game this season with these options.
For more guidance on how to watch SEC Network+ and/or ESPN+ games, contact ESPN's customer care at 888-549-3776. Assistance is available online at support.espn.com.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.