Vols to hit road soon
Posted: Thursday, December 23, 2010 8:47 pm
By: UT Sports Information
The Tennessee football program is nearing the end — of its on-campus bowl preparations for next week’s Music City Bowl that is.
The Vols have just one more practice day in Knoxville before breaking for a brief Christmas holiday.
The team reconvenes on Sunday in Nashville to begin on-site workouts for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl game against North Carolina.
Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. (Vol Network, ESPN) next Thursday.
Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said the goal this week and next for the UT coaching staff is finding that right mixture of bowl practice amid the extended postseason layoff.
“You see some of these games where you think there are very evenly matched teams that get going one way or the other, and I think it has a lot to do with your preparation,” Wilcox said. “I think there is a delicate balance between grinding the kids down during bowl prep and not doing enough.”
The Vols have time for only three practice days at Vanderbilt University before a Wednesday walk-through leading up to the game, so this week’s work has been crucial.
“Coach Dooley has put together a great model where we gave them a great break, we got into a small training camp mode and now we’re in the bowl prep,” Wilcox added. “Hopefully, we will be fresh at the right time.”
Tennessee’s layoff by game time will be 33 days since the Vols defeated Kentucky on Nov. 27 in the regular season finale.
“The more time you have between your last game of the year and your bowl game, you have a tendency to overwork them,” Wilcox said. “You have to be careful not to do that, and these players have done a good job responding and have had some good days of practice.”
One plus for the up-and-coming players on the Tennessee roster has been the extended practice time since school ended.
“You definitely want to get the younger guys a lot of work because you can use those days to prepare them for next year.”
CHANEY COMFY: Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney began the 2010 season with near zero major college experience at the quarterback position. Tyler Bray was an incoming true freshman and junior college transfer Matt Simms played only briefly at Louisville two years ago.
But after a 6-6 campaign that included a 4-0 November run to the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Chaney feels a little bit better about his top two signal-callers.
“The quarterback position is so critical to any football organization. Knowing that these two now have played a lot of football, it opens up the playbook a little bit more for you. Even more than that, their leadership on the field is much better than it was at the beginning because they’re more comfortable.”
Simms started the first eight games, completing 57.9 percent of his passes this year for 1,460 yards and eight touchdowns against five interceptions. Bray started the last four and enters the bowl game with a 54.7-percent completion rate, 1,537 yards and 14 touchdowns against seven interceptions.
ALUMNI TO TAILGATE: The University of Tennessee Volunteers are heading to Nashville to take on the University of North Carolina Tar Heels in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 30, at 5:30 p.m.
Vol fans traveling to the game can join other Vol fans before the game at Limelight (201 Woodland Street), from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Admission is free and appearances will be made by the UT cheerleaders, the Pride of the Southland Band and former UT football players.