Kiffin looks for improvement from Vols

Getting to a bowl game earns your team 15 extra practices. For first year UT Head Coach Lane Kiffin there is no better time to get extra work for his players. As Kiffin prepares his troops for the New Year's Eve Chick-Fil-A Bowl matchup against Virginia Tech, this final week of practice is also about getting his team better. Go "Inside" for the best possible bowl coverage this week.

The Tennessee football team had a two-hour practice Saturday morning after a return from a short break for the holidays.

Tennessee is preparing for its bowl game versus 12th ranked Virginia Tech of the ACC in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

The Volunteers held their practice at Decatur High School in East Atlanta after arriving in town for the first of a five-day bowl preparation period.

The team began practice on the artificial field outdoors at 11:15 a.m., in temperatures ranging from 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The team will practice again at Decatur High School Sunday before moving into the Georgia Dome for 10:30 a.m. practices Monday and Tuesday.

For running back Montario Hardesty, the break provided an excellent opportunity to recharge and return to physical practice.

"We got a couple days off and we got a lot of guys back from injury," Hardesty said. "I think this is probably the healthiest our team's been in a long time. I feel a lot fresher, just a little bit less pounding on my body."

Defensive back Eric Berry also expressed gratefulness over the rest period allotted during the holiday.

"We did have a little rest, I think we had like four days off," Berry said. "I think it did help. Right now I feel pretty good as far as our team health-wise."

The team spent an extended period of time in practice working on special teams, with multiple punt and field goal drills.

The Vols will need the practice when facing Virginia Tech punter Brent Bowden, who leads the ACC with a 43.9 yard average per punt, with a season long of 60.

Bowden isn't the only great Hokie kicker however, with field goal kicker Matt Waldron joining Bowden on the All-ACC team.

Waldron has connected on 17-of-20 field goals on the season and 44-of-44 PATs.

"It's a big concern of ours," head coach Lane Kiffin said. "All special teams, especially playing against these guys."

The AP ranking alone is enough to force the Volunteers into an underdog role Thursday, a role which Kiffin has been happy to accept.

Kiffin has referred to the upcoming game with the 12th ranked Hokies as a "BCS-type matchup," noting Virginia Tech's consecutive appearances in the Orange Bowl the past two years.

Consistency has been a common theme for the Virginia Tech, a program that has made 17 straight bowl appearances and is also looking to secure its sixth consecutive 10-win season Thursday night.

History is one area the Volunteers certainly win in, as they hold a 5-2 lead all-time in a series dating back to 1896 with the Hokies.

Tech has also struggled to find success in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, going 0-2 in a 14-24 loss to Alabama on September 5, as well as a 24-31 loss to Georgia in 2006.

The Chick-fil-A Bowl will be the third time the Hokies play in Atlanta this season, after suffering losses against Alabama in the Georgia Dome and dropping a road conference game to Georgia Tech 28-38 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The 2009 Chick-fil-A Bowl is Thursday, December 31 at 7:30 ET at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with coverage provided by ESPN.


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