Tennessee Vols head coach Josh Heupel made a blunt statement on Saturday night after UT’s devastating 63-38 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Heupel wants this loss to hurt for the players and everyone involved with Tennessee football.

And not just the players who were in Columbia on Saturday night — the players who didn’t make the trip, too (starting linebacker Jeremy Banks was one of the players who didn’t make the trip to South Carolina).

“For us and this program, this one needs to hurt on the way back,” said Heupel after the loss. “And it needs to hurt the guys that aren’t on this trip that will be in our building tomorrow afternoon and be there on Monday. For us to grow as a program, you have to look at this opportunity and understand what happened. Let it hurt and remember that as you move forward and let it grow.”

Heupel is right — Tennessee’s players need to take this loss personally.

They need to use this loss as motivation to get back on track next week against Vanderbilt.

Because while I’m sure the interest in the Vanderbilt game has waned after the loss to South Carolina, it’s still an incredibly important game for the Volunteers.

Tennessee needs to get to 11 wins this season. It won’t erase the disappointment of the loss to South Carolina, but it’s a milestone they need to reach for the future of the program.

Going 11-2, while not the goal, is still a great accomplishment for a team that hasn’t won 11 games since 2001. As bad as this loss was, the Vols have to find a way to put it behind them and take care of business against Vanderbilt.

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