Tennessee Shaking Off Rust as Atlanta Practices Begin

Dec. 26, 2009

  Stocker, Douglas, Hardesty Audio 12/26 |  Coach Kiffin Audio 12/26 | GALLERY

Atlanta - The Tennessee football team resumed its preparations for the Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Virginia Tech with a two-hour workout Saturday morning at Decatur High School.

The Vols arrived in Atlanta on Friday evening and apparently didn't adjust well to their new surroundings. UT head coach Lane Kiffin felt their first workout was lacking in focus.

"I thought practice was OK," Kiffin said. "We were a little bit rusty, which is to be expected with the time off. It's good that we have the extra time to prepare, because we have a long way to go still.

"It's all new to us, the hotel and everything. Today there were a lot of things that didn't go perfect. Hopefully we'll get them ironed out and have a better day tomorrow."

Tennessee will repeat Saturday's routine on Sunday, practicing in the late morning at Decatur High School.

The Vols play in their fifth Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve. Tennessee is 1-3 in previous appearances and has not played in the game since the 2004 season. The Vols are 5-2 all-time vs. Virginia Tech, but the two programs have not played since the 1994 Gator Bowl, a 45-23 UT win.

Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, and ESPN will provide national television coverage.

Kicking Game Still an Issue
Tennessee still has not selected its field goal kicker for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Vols have three juniors on the roster in Daniel Lincoln, Chad Cunningham and Devin Mathis, yet none of the three is kicking consistently enough to warrant Kiffin declaring a starter.

"We kicked all three of them again today. We'll go back and watch this film and figure it out pretty soon. It wasn't very good again today.

"As soon as you think one guy is starting to pull ahead, he's inconsistent. That's a big concern of ours, all of our special teams playing against these guys, but especially our kickers."

Not Concerned with the Polls
Tennessee could climb into the Associated Press or Coaches Top 25 with a victory over Virginia Tech, which is ranked 11th in both tabulations. Kiffin, always with an eye on recruiting and concerned primarily with the long-term plan for his program, doesn't believe UT's final ranking is a significant issue.

"I don't think it does anything for us," Kiffin said. "I don't think it affects recruiting at all. I don't think kids read the final Top 25."

Injury Report
Only two Vols missed practice or parts of practice Saturday. Freshman offensive tackle Aaron Douglas was limited with an ankle injury and freshman running back Bryce Brown sat out with lingering symptoms from a concussion. Kiffin said that sophomore Tauren Poole and freshman David Oku would likely split reps if Brown couldn't handle his backup running back role on game day.

Afternoon Activities
The Vols afternoon bowl activity on Saturday was the Chick-fil-A Welcome Party at Dave & Buster's restaurant in Marietta, Ga. The event included a meal for the team and plenty of time in the restaurant's expansive arcade.

On Sunday
In addition to perhaps holding a more efficient practice on Sunday, the Vols also have an early morning church service and an afternoon trip to the Georgia Aquarium on the slate for their second full day in Atlanta.





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