Tennessee Vols head coach Josh Heupel is going to get his first taste of the storied UT/Florida rivalry this weekend.

The Vols are set to take on the Gators on Saturday night in the Swamp.

Heupel, who is in his first year as Tennessee’s head coach, better enjoy this weekend in Gainesville — because he’ll never experience another Florida weekend like this in his career.

It doesn’t matter how long Heupel coaches at UT. This is the least amount of pressure that he’ll ever feel before playing the Gators.

No one — outside of Tennessee’s players and coaches — is expecting the Vols to win this weekend.

If the Vols go to Gainesville and lose by three or four touchdowns, no one (at least no one reasonable) is going to be crying about the state of the UT program. Florida and Tennessee are in two completely different places. The Gators have a talent advantage, an established SEC head coach, and depth.

Tennessee has none of that.

Heupel is still in the honeymoon phase. Or as Derek Dooley would call it, year 0.

This phase won’t last long. The next time the Vols play Florida — on September 24, 2022 in Knoxville — fans will be hungry for a win. There will be expectations. There will be pressure. There will be legions of pissed off fans if Tennessee loses.

What Heupel experiences this weekend while playing Florida is not what he’ll experience throughout the rest of his career on Rocky Top.

Of course, that’s why coaches go to Tennessee. There’s nothing that compares to the thrill of victory in an SEC rivalry game.

But there’s nothing like the agony of defeat, either.

Tennessee fans are hoping Heupel can be the coach that finally provides triumphant victory celebrations after playing Florida, instead of painful stadium exits.

Featured image via Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services/Saul Young/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services