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With no championship to play for how does Tennessee keep up morale?

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After last week’s loss to Missouri, Tennessee finds themselves out of playoff or championship contention and must face the back-to-back national champion Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday. With technically nothing to play for, how do the Vols keep up morale and spoil Georgia’s perfect season? Tennessee tight end Jacob Warren has some ideas that he shared on this week’s Vol Report. 

On a personal level, a win over Georgia would be a first for Warren. “I have beaten a majority of the teams that you want to beat in (the SEC). I think that Georgia is one of those that you really want to be able to say, ‘yeah, we beat Georgia my senior year.’” 

“You want to win (the games) because they mean so much to us and to the fans.” continued Warren. “And, it also has big implications on the future of both teams. We win the game and go to a better bowl game. I’m definitely playing for a lot on both sides.” 

Could a victory over Georgia help Tennessee’s recruitment opportunities? It’s definitely possible, according to Warren. “I’m sure there’s going to be plenty of guys on our sideline or in our stands that are here on a visit that are also being recruited,” said Warren. “It’ll be a big thing for them to see how each team reacts and who wins the game. (It) might sway one (recruit) here or there.” 

There won’t be a championship ring this year for Tennessee. How does the team as a whole stay motivated? One word comes to Warren’s mind – pride. 

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“I think it’s truly the pride of being a competitor, being someone that cares about the future of this program,” said Warren. “We’ve set the bar really high for ourselves. And quite frankly, the goals that we had, we’re not going to be able to reach. I think that’s something that as a player and as a man, you have to swallow and come to terms with.” 

Just because the team’s original goals won’t be met this year doesn’t mean they cannot make new ones, according to Warren. “Now you have to set your eyes on different goals and realize that there is so much to play for and not just bragging rights.” 

“We want to have the best experience we can with the rest of the season,” continued Warren. “The best way is winning every game left. How can we go and be the best that we can, finish the season the strongest, and hopefully be able to go to a really cool bowl and have that experience?” 

Beating Georgia would be extremely meaningful to Warren as he puts a final stamp on an incredible collegiate career. “I like to envision myself in that position the way we felt after Alabama last year. I thought that (a win) wasn’t possible or I wouldn’t have the chance to do it while I was here.”  

“I think (Georgia) is another one of those statement, exclamation mark games,” said Warren. “It is something to remember forever and would be extremely huge for me personally… to end my career, but also for the program. Just setting our eyes on new goals and trying to win the rest of them.”

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