Vols wrap Knoxville bowl prep before holiday break
Coach Heupel praised his team’s focus over the course of 10 bowl practices on Rocky Top
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee football head coach Josh Heupel took the podium Wednesday morning and spoke with members of the media after the Vols’ 10th bowl practice wrapped up inside the Anderson Training Center.
The team will take a couple of days off for the holiday before heading to Nashville to begin on-site preparations for the TransPerfect Music City Bowl matchup against Purdue, set for Thursday, December 30 at 3 p.m. ET from Nissan Stadium. When UT takes the field in Nashville, it will have been more than a month since the team’s regular season finale victory over Vanderbilt.
Heupel praised his team’s focus and mentality over the course of 10 bowl practices in Knoxville and how his staff has prepared to keep the team engaged heading into the postseason clash. “You watch bowl games, turnovers and penalties rear their head in those games,” Heupel said. “Rust is a part of that. I think that’s why you got to do a good amount of good-on-good work while you’re here at home, too. Make sure they understand the speed and tempo of the football game. Bowl games are unique in that you got to have some fun and enjoy being around each other, but when you’re in the building, that’s football time and you have to be able to lock in. These guys have had really good practices here at home. When you get to the bowl site, you have to be able to manage that in the same way.”
The Vols have ramped up their preparations for Purdue in the last five or six practices. UT will face a Boilermaker squad who posted an 8-4 record and claimed multiple victories over top-5 opponents in 2021, and Heupel shared his thoughts on the opponent in his comments to media on Wednesday. “Defensively, they’re extremely physical,” Heupel said. “They play hard. Front-seven is physical at the point of attack and we have to do a good job. You look at them, they do a good job in red zone areas, and we have to do a good job of creating some explosive plays, staying out of third and long with them. “Offensively, their ability to throw the football around is something that we’ve got to do a great job of being able to manage. Your front four or your pressures, you have to get home and make it uncomfortable for the quarterback. (Have to) do a good job of getting it out of his hands, screen game as well. To do that, you have to be able to get your hands up and affect the throwing lanes, as well.”
Copyright 2021 WVLT. All rights reserved.