The hype around Tennessee football is increasing, but that is not the only thing getting attention on Rocky Top.
Jalin Hyatt has emerged as a star for Tennessee this season. The wide-out has broken the single-season record for touchdowns, with 14 thus far. Hyatt also sits at 907 yards on the season.
Head coach Josh Heupel has made sure to not let outside noise affect his locker room – regardless of what it is about.
“We’re a hard-working team and not only that, we don’t let the outside noise correlate to what we do in the building,” Hyatt said on Tuesday. “That’s one thing coach Heupel preaches for our team in the team meetings. We don’t look at the outside noise and we know what team we have.”
Tennessee had some expectations coming into 2022, but no one projected the Volunteers to be rolling into Athens as the No. 1 team in the country.
“I think we finally know our identity as far as who we are and that’s one of the biggest things that I felt this year that we changed from last year, just knowing who we are,” Hyatt said. “You can see the confidence in all the guys. I think we know where we want to go and where we’re headed.”
Tennessee is playing for a chance to play in the SEC championship on Saturday when the Volunteers face off against Georga. On top of that, the Volunteers have the opportunity to play their way into the College Football Playoff.
Defenses like Georgia hold several similarities to other SEC powers, like Alabama and Florida traditionally. These similarities are evident on film for Hyatt.
“Yeah, there are definitely similarities,” Hyatt said. “Obviously, Georgia is going to have athletes and Alabama has athletes, but one thing for me that stands out with Georgia is how physical they are. They’re a big physical team, physical defense. They like to put hands on [you] and that’s something we have to prepare for and something that we have to be ready for this Saturday.”
Georgia will definitely give Tennessee a different look on defense than some of the other teams they have faced off against this season. Tennessee’s offense has been very versatile this season.
For example, Tennessee expected LSU to drop into eight-man coverages when they faced off earlier this year in Baton Rouge. Instead, LSU blitzed heavily – something Tennessee did not expect.
Regardless of what LSU threw at Tennessee, the Volunteers torched the Tiger defense in a blowout win. Hyatt expects Tennessee to adjust to whatever Georgia throws at them on Saturday accordingly.
“We do everything off matchups,” Hyatt said. “Just see their tendencies. We gameplan that during the week and see what safeties are what and how they play. Are they flat footed? Do they get out of their breaks? What coverage are they mainly in? But, with Kentucky, they had some busts that messed them up and I’m glad we took advantage of it.”