Jones: Vols' game plan for Nebraska 'in place'

Tennessee will practice a few more times leading up to the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, but most of the Vols’ preparations for their Dec. 30 showdown with Nebraska now have been completed.

Coach Butch Jones said Tuesday that Tennessee’s “game plan is in place,” and the Vols would be ready “to play the game tomorrow” if necessary.

“Our game plan is in place, so if we had to play the game tomorrow, we’d be able to do that, so I’m excited about that,” Jones said following his team’s practice Tuesday morning inside Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.

“I’ve liked our focus. I mean, it’s been a driven mindset. They’ve come in and they’ve put their work in, and I’ve liked the way they’ve approached this bowl preparation.”

Jones said Tennessee’s bowl practices have included “some live tackling things that we’ve never done in bowl preparation before” — “basically Day One teaching,” he later added — after the Vols struggled with tackling during their final regular-season games.

They have made progress in that area, he said, “but now its’ being able to take it to the game field.”

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“When you give individuals time off, now how do we approach those times when we come back?” Jones said. “But, again, we did some live tackling things that we’ve never done in bowl preparation before. But I felt that our entire football team needed it, and not just from a tackling standpoint, but a block-destruction standpoint.

“But also from an offensive standpoint of our style of play, with a body on a body and finishing plays, and really challenging our players because they’re playing a very, very good football team that has been a top-10 football team most of the year.

“And they’re very, very physical. They’re a football team that does not beat themselves. They don’t turn the football over, so we have to play a football game that’s comprised of discipline and fundamentals and details, so we’ve really gone back to Ground Zero teaching — basically Day One teaching — and our players have responded.”

Nebraska’s uncertainty at quarterback leading up to next week’s game also presents “a challenge” for Tennessee, Jones said.

Huskers starter Tommy Armstrong has been sidelined by a torn hamstring, and his status for the bowl game remains unclear. Backup Ryker Fyfe also has been limited in practices after having a pin inserted into the wrist of his non-throwing hand.

“It’s a challenge. But both quarterbacks are very, very talented, and you have to prepare for both,” Jones said. “You watch video on both. And, again, it just gets back to your habits in practice and your style of play. Just overall execution — the details, the communication — to me, that’s what it’s all about.”

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