Nov. 18, 2009
The Tennessee football team practiced Wednesday for slightly more than two hours on a soggy Haslam Field, focusing primarily on third-down and red-zone situations in preparation for Saturday's contest with SEC and in-state rival Vanderbilt.
The Vols, now four days removed from a disappointing 42-17 loss at Ole Miss, appear focused and energized for the final two games of the regular season as they attempt to earn their first bowl berth since 2007. Tennessee needs one win in its last two games to become bowl eligible for the eighth time since 2000.
"I thought practice was great today," Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin said. "They had a lot of energy for whatever reason. Things got very competitive at the end. It turned a half-pad practice into live there at the end in the red zone. It's great to see that energy this late in the season."
Kiffin suspects that one of the primary reasons his defense has renewed energy this week is its less-than-stellar performance against the Rebels in Oxford. The Vols surrendered 300 rushing yards for the first time in nine seasons and allowed Dexter McCluster 282 yards on the ground, more than any other individual has ever gained rushing against the Vols.
"That's the first game for a while that they have moved the ball around on us versus our first defense," Kiffin said. "I know they're excited to get back out there and prove that that's not who they are. It will be interesting Saturday night, but I know they are excited about it."
Tennessee and Vanderbilt meet for the 104th time on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised by ESPNU.