‘My No. 1 goal is to not get arrested’

Tony Vitello is just like any other Tennessee fan this weekend. He’s trying not to get Arrested while the Florida Gators are in town.

“The moment I wake up (on Saturday),” Vitello told SEC This Morning on SEC Network on Friday, “my No. 1 goal is to not get Arrested and do something crazy.”

Well. 11 Tennessee (3-0) hosts No. 20 Florida (2-1) in the highly anticipated 3:30 pm Eastern Time kickoff inside a sold out and checkerboard Neyland Stadium. The game will be televised by CBS as the SEC Game of the Week.

ESPN’s College GameDay is also in town, broadcasting live from 9 am-Noon ET Saturday on the lawn outside Ayers Hall on The Hill on Tennessee’s campus.

“I’ll be fired up just as all the students and all the fans will be,” Vitello said in the SEC Network appearance.

Second-year Tennessee Coach Josh Heupel, who has the Vols up to the No. 11 overall ranking in just 16 career games, said the extra attention around the game this week meant a little more work for his players.

“Early in the week there is a little bit of extra,” Heupel said on Thursday. “There is probably a little bit (extra) here on the back end of the week, too, on Friday afternoon, before we get to Saturday.”

The focus has been there, though, as the Vols look to move to 4-0 with a win over Florida, which hasn’t happened since 2016, the last time College GameDay was in Knoxville.

“Our guys have been really good,” Heupel said during his Thursday press conference. “The focus has been really good. The practices have been intentional in the way they’ve approached it. The next 48 hours, continuing our prep and finishing our preparation, will be a big part of it.

“The outside noise, the opportunity that is here, you work to have these opportunities. Early in the week, I told our players to enjoy the fact that we have this opportunity. But that has nothing to do with how we play. We have to prepare the right way and we’ve been pretty good up until this point, so we have to finish it out.”

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Instead of telling his players to block out the outside noise, Heupel has instead said to embrace it.

“Because it’s impossible to block out the noise in today’s world,” he said. “It’s absolutely impossible, so they’re going to see it and hear it. You can’t let it affect what matters, which is your preparation. Everyone’s going to want to win on game day. You’ve got to do what it takes to win, so I think that’s important.

“Our kids should be and are excited about this one. It’s always a big one when we play Florida, so embrace that at the beginning of the week, and then be consistent.

“If you guys were out at practice, the energy – you’ve heard me speak – it’s not a whole lot different, man,” Heupel added. “We’re businesslike in our approach. Our kids have a much better understanding of how to prepare. Now we’ve got to finish it and go play.”

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