Best time for bye week

Stay tuned for InsideTennessee for all the latest Tennessee Vols football news. Scroll down to read a notebook that features all the highlights from Tuesday's practice.

Daniel Hood has been in this situation before, like a case of déjà vu he can't seem to shake.

With two games left, Tennessee needs two wins to become bowl eligible.

"We know what to expect," Hood said. "We know how to prepare. We've done this before."

This marks the fourth consecutive year the Vols must beat both Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the season's final two weeks to earn a bowl bid.

"You have to treat each game from here on out like Game 7," the Vols' defensive lineman said. "You know that if you lose, you're done."

With more knowledge in the "win or go home" department than he'd prefer, Hood talks from experience when he says this bye week couldn't have come at a better time.

"We get two weeks to prepare for Saturday, two weeks to watch more film, to more weeks in the weight room to work harder," Hood said.

The Vols enter the bye week fresh off three-straight losses to top-10 teams.

After each thumping, Tennessee coach Butch Jones has entered the locker room with a question for the seniors: "What do you want your legacy to be?"

Speaking to media post-practice Tuesday, Hood wasn't concerned how his football career would finish. Rather, he was focused on how Jones' first year would end.

"For all the momentum that coach Jones has created this year," Hood said, "it would be a shame (for) every single senior to let him go out without a bowl game this year."

Bye weeks are often associated with lighter practices and a return to fundamentals.

Not this week. Not at this point in Tennessee's season.

The Vols began the bye week with a full-padded practice.

"As I was telling some of the other d-linemen, this isn't just time to recover and try to get warmed up," Hood told InsideTennessee. "This week is a week to go out and give it everything you've got on the field. Come in on Friday and Saturday and do your treatments and rehabs then, but Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, it's time to get to work."

Other than working toward a bowl birth, the bye week will be dedicated to unearthing several questions that surround Tennessee's defense.

The Vols kept annual SEC East frontrunners Georgia and South Carolina at bay, but the flood gates opened in recent weeks.

Watching the Auburn game film, Hood saw notable differences from the Vols' defense of early October.

"If you go back to the South Carolina game, you look at our pad level and we were lower than them. If we were a three technique, we were a three technique," Hood said. "If we were a two, we were a two. Our hands were inside and in the right spot. And then you turn around and look at the Auburn game and our pads were too high and our hands were outside. "

Finding motivation to current those problems shouldn't be a problem.

"We have to fix the ‘whys,'" defensive end Corey Miller said. "It's obvious what's wrong. Now it's do or die."

Positive Peterman

When Jones is discussing quarterback Nathan Peterman's recovery from a thumb injury suffered against Florida, the word "resilient" is used over and over.

Tuesday was no exception.

Jones praised Peterman for his work ethic and said he continued to improve despite not seeing the field.

"(Peterman taught) himself how to write with the other hand, having someone else take notes for him and all that," Jones said. "You know, he was a student of the game. I think his development as a quarterback improved during that time even when he wasn't practicing because that's just as important as the physical repetitions."

Peterman spoke to media for the first time since his injury. He said he watched the Florida game film and described the experience as "very, very difficult."

Dobbs, run game improving

While it wasn't reflected in the outcome, Jones said Joshua Dobbs made improvements during his second start against No. 7 Auburn.

Jones praised Dobbs for improving his "overall" game management, but was quick to point out that the freshman needs to be more efficient with his deep ball.

Jones was also pleased with the Vols' running game Saturday. But, like Dobbs, the compliment was double-edged. Jones said the group still needs to generate more "splash plays."

"I thought we ran the ball with a higher level of consistency. But we still lack the big play," Jones said. "We were getting four or five yards and ran the ball efficiently, which is our goal, but we also need a 30 yard run, a 40 yard run."

Special teams studies

After fronting Auburn scores on an 85-yard punt return and a 90-yard kickoff return, Jones said he made the entire team watch the special teams film.

Jones said he counted four missed tackles on the punt return and five on the kickoff return.

The Vols placed an emphasis on full-padded special teams drills during Tuesday's practice.

Butch Jones, per university

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