Photo GalleryTAMPA, Fla. — Temperatures neared 80 degrees Thursday as Tennessee continued its preparations for next week’s Outback Bowl matchup with Wisconsin. Donning full pads for the second straight day, the Volunteers practiced for two hours at the University of Tampa.
Tennessee concluded Thursday’s workout with a brief but spirited full-speed scrimmage. Head coach Phillip Fulmer said he is seeing signs the Vols receiving corps will make the most of its opportunity against the Badgers.
“They all are excited about it. We had a heck of a day Wednesday filling in, with (Josh) Briscoe taking some of the reps Lucas (Taylor) normally would have. Denarius Moore had a great day, and I’m hopeful that continues.
“They are stepping up and excited about it. They are treating it like an injury.”
Briscoe is coming off a career outing in the SEC Championship Game. The junior from Lawndale, N.C., who started four games this year, caught eight passes for 79 yards and a touchdown against LSU to finish third on the team in receptions (49) and yards (456) and tied for second with five TD catches. Sophomore Austin Rogers is the team’s active leading receiver with 53 catches for 587 yards and four scores.
Tennessee’s next practice is Friday after a morning press conference and the DeBartolo Team Luncheon. After the workout, the Vols have been invited to GameWorks at Ybor City.
Fulmer appreciates the Outback Bowl’s pace of activities.
“This bowl is not bad that way. They give you the minimal things to do and have made a couple of things optional. They’ve done a good job, the bowl has, minimizing the obligations you have.
“I learned from Coach (Joe) Paterno way back that you don’t do everything they’ve got scheduled. And I think the bowls have learned as we’ve gone along not to do too much. I must say Jim McVey (Outback Bowl president and CEO) and his staff have been incredible.”
Speaking of a welcoming attitude, the hospitality displayed this week by the University of Tampa calls to mind some prior history between the two UTs. Tampa no longer fields a football team, but the Spartans did compete on the gridiron from 1933-74.
In fact, Tennessee was the Spartans’ opponent when Tampa opened its home football venue, Tampa Stadium, on Nov. 4, 1967. The third-ranked Vols posted a 38-0 win that day under head coach Doug Dickey—who now resides in Jacksonville, Fla.—and went on to finish the 1967 season with a 9-2 record and claim one of the program’s 13 Southeastern Conference championships as well as the Litkenhous national championship.
Tampa Stadium, known as Houlihan’s Stadium from 1996-98 and nicknamed “The Big Sombrero,” closed in 1998 and was demolished in 1999. The NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers called the venue home from 1976-97 until the opening of Raymond James Stadium—current site of the Outback Bowl.
That 1967 triumph over the Spartans is one of three all-time Volunteer victories in the city of Tampa (defeated Florida 24-0 in 1916 and defeated Boston College 38-23 in the 1993 Hall of Fame Bowl). Tennessee has just one loss here, falling to Penn State 20-10 in last season’s Outback Bowl. The Big Orange are 19-16 all-time in games contested in the Sunshine State.