With six wins under their belts, Lane Kiffin and his Tennessee Volunteers are focused on one thing - that's win No. 7 and a better bowl game.
Kiffin's troops went through a spirited hour and a half practice here Thanksgiving morning, finishing up with their final preparation for Saturday's SEC battle with a different type of Kentucky ball club.
"Kentucky is playing really good football right now," UT Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney told the media. "They have a really good group of linebackers. That will be a major key for us; we have to stop their linebackers from disrupting our offense."
Tennessee owns a 24-year winning streak against the Wildcats. This appears to be the best Kentucky team that Tennessee has faced in a long while. UK is coming off an impressive win against Georgia, and Saturday's battle will determine which team ends up in second place in the SEC East.
"Saturday's game is very important for us for several reasons," Kiffin said. "We want to finish this season on a very strong and winning note. It will allow our team to finish second in the East, and it will ensure us getting a bowl bid."
Kiffin has said on several occasions that his young ball club could use the extra 15 practices that goes along with a bowl bid.
"It allows our younger players to get a lot more reps," Kiffin explained. "It would be a great way to finish off this year and send our seniors out with a bowl victory."Number Madness
Several players were in different numbers for the last official practice of the regular season.Practice finishes with flying tackles
All of the Tennessee seniors continued a Volunteer tradition in a drill that has the seniors ending their last regular practice as a Vol by tackling a Kentucky blocking dummy.
Recent surgeries a success
Kiffin said it will be game-time decisions on the injury status of defensive back Art Evans and defensive ends Chris Walker and Ben Martin. He gave defensive back Marsalous Johnson the green light for Saturday after Johnson had the past three games with injury.
Vols deal with turkey and dressing distractions
While the team was out on the practice field, a catering company was busy setting up a Thanksgiving spread for the team.
"I thought practice was OK today," Kiffin said. "The guys were a little loose. It's always hard on this day to keep them focused because a lot of family members are around that they are going to see afterward. We'll come back Friday and have meetings and a walk-through before we take off."
Kiffin appears thankful for the return of Janzen Jackson
"I'm very confident; he looks great," Kiffin said. "He will be playing every snap on defense and special teams for us and, hopefully, pick up where he left off. If you remember, the last game he played he was the SEC Freshman of the Week, so we look for him to continue that."