Josh Heupel can now point to evidence of growth in the type of game Tennessee won on Saturday, and he was proud of the Vols’ ability to win a game like that against a good opponent.

“Obviously we didn’t play our best in some areas, but found a way to come out on the right side of it,” Heupel said. “Last year we wouldn’t have been able to win a game like [Pitt]. We weren’t relentless when things weren’t going our way. We had to improve that. I’m grateful that we had to overcome some of those [mistakes] to win that game. That’s a good thing for your guys to experience.”

In one area, Heupel was excited to see Tennessee play the second quarter the way the Vols are capable of playing, as that period has been a point of emphasis since the offseason.

Heupel said Tennessee is different even from where it was at the end of last season, and accountability in every area of your life has improved and shows up in the players’ performance, whether it be mental or physical toughness, and ability to strain when things aren’t going your way.

“The growth of individuals and the growth of our units together, all that adds up to us having the ability to fight and win a game in overtime like we played,” Heupel said.