Heupel wants “hostile environment”, says Checker Neyland

Tennessee making the Checker Neyland concept.

Josh Heupel is well aware that Saturday will be the biggest game in Knoxville so far in his tenure. Not only will it be the return of former Tennessee HC Lane Kiffin, but it will be the two quickest offenses in college football that clash. And obviously, Heupel knows the fans will have an incredible impact on the game.

At his Week 7 opening press conference on Monday, Heupel spoke about bringing fans to the stadium. In addition, he brought up the concept of stadium gadgets from the fans, like the checkerboard of the stands at Neyland.

“Shoot, I’m into whatever our fans want to do on Saturday night for this one,” Heupel said after being asked about Checker Neyland’s concept. “I think you want to play an exciting brand of football, you want to be very competitive, to bring the fans to the stands. I think we are doing it right now. And then you want your fans to enjoy the moment, man. Saturday night will be a great environment, but it has to be a hostile environment. “

Heupel went on to explain the importance of fans and the energy and disruption that can come from the stands.

“We have to make it difficult for these guys to communicate”, Heupel said. “Our fans understand that they play with the tempo and in their communication, so we have to make it strong and make it uncomfortable for them.”

Over the past few years, Tennessee has designed the Checker Neyland concept for specific games, which essentially turns the stands into a huge checkerboard. Fans have been asked to visit Checker Neyland’s website in the past, where an automated system would tell them if their section was dressed in orange or white. After the Vols’ victory over South Carolina, rumors began to circulate on social media about the potential to bring Checker Neyland back for the Ole Miss game.

“I’m looking forward to an electric atmosphere this weekend,” Heupel said. “We need everyone in orange and white at the stadium, to be there early, to be loud and to make it a hostile environment for the opponent who is coming in. A very good football team that we are at faced, in all three phases. “

Tennessee (4-2, 2-1 SEC) will host the 13th Ole Miss (4-1, 1-1 SEC) at Neyland Stadium on Saturday night. The SEC Network will air at 7:30 p.m. ET.



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Virginia C. Taylor

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