Ticket punched for TaxSlayer Bowl

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Ticket punched. Destination set.

Tennessee will play Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 2 at 3:20 p.m. Eastern.

The Volunteers finished 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the Southeastern Conference. The Hawkeyes went 7-5 with a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten Western Division.

In an exclusive interview with InsideTennessee, second-year head coach Butch Jones spoke about Tennessee’s upcoming postseason experience and preparation time that should help springboard the Big Orange into the 2015 season, namely with the allotted practice time.

“It's a little different you know based on the timing of the bowl,” Jones told IT. “A lot of times you don't even get to 15 but you do have 15 if you count workouts and lifting and all that. But any opportunity you get to continue to improve his very, very important.”

Tennessee’s fourth-year seniors (and younger) have never seen the postseason, missing out on roughly 45 practices over the previous three seasons, which hampers player development.

“It's invaluable the progress that they make,” Jones said. “every chance you get an opportunity to improve your craft or your skill set is that able, is very important. But, to be able to do it in this type of setting, play the game, and then come back and start your winter strength and conditioning program it’s monumental in moving forward.”

The Big Orange took a break earlier this week to aid with academic progress and physical recovery from a 12-game regular season schedule.

“Then, it's also a balancing act because you are also out still trying to assemble a recruiting class,” Jones said. “So, a lot of times you will start off with staying in shape with lifting sessions, conditioning sessions and practice on the weekends structured in with an official visit weekend. Then it is based on the timing of the bowl, which bowl game you are in and all that, getting your practices in and your preparation for all that.

“So, it's a balancing act between getting your health back, recruiting and preparing for the game as well."

Team 118 could very well be in the Sunshine State to celebrate Christmas “based on when the game is.”

“Some of the bowl games we have been to we have left on Christmas day,” Jones said. “Some bowl games we’ve been at we have left on the 23rd so we’ve had Christmas at the bowl site. Some bowl games we have been in we’ve left on the 26th. So, it’s all based on the timing of when the game is, the date of the game.

“We have been to a number of bowls; we have a pretty good bowl format based on the timing of the game that we’ll go back and we’ll revisit.”

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