NASHVILLE (WATE) – The Big Orange is getting ready to face Nebraska on Friday in the Music City Bowl. The Vols arrived in Nashville on Monday.
Team 120 had its first full practice Tuesday at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville. Twenty-four of the players call Nashville home and relish the idea of playing near their old stomping grounds.
“It’s good to come back home and practice here,” said senior defensive lineman Derek Barnett. “Just to get back to my hometown is very special. All my friends and family can come.”
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“This field has been redone since I was here, so it makes me feel old in a way,” said junior defensive lineman Jashon Robertson. “Just to be out here in this weather in my city, I mean, it ain’t too much more you can ask for.”
Nashville does hold some painful memories for the Vols, with the tough loss to Vanderbilt that ended the regular season. Some have questioned if there’s a lot to play for against the Huskers, but the Vols think that notion is silly and they have plenty to play for.
“I feel like it’s our job to motivate. We’re student athletes, but we came here to play football. You have to love the game of football, and if you love the game of football, you’ll be motivated,” said senior offensive lineman Dylan Wiesman. “The energy at practice today was great. Everybody was bouncing around and having fun. It’s a new atmosphere and you kind of sense it’s closer to game week as you’re starting to get a little edgy. It’s definitely a good feeling.”
“To me, it’s another opportunity to go out and run through a game with my brothers, enjoy each other, love each other, celebrate with each other. It’s time to perform,” said Robertson.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Vols. Coach Butch Jones and the team may not be in the bowl they thought they’d be in, but the team is taking the trip seriously.
“If someone goes out there and they’re just here for the trip, here for the vacation, it’s not really a vacation for us. It’s a business trip and that’s the way we’re approaching it,” said Wiesman.
“It means a lot to me, and it means a lot to our team as well,” said Barnett. “We have played good defensively in our last game, and you’re as good as your last game. We want to come out and finish the season strong in a dominating fashion.”
Considering the laundry list of injuries for the Cornhuskers, the Vols agree it’s extremely important to stop their run game. Barnett says if the Vols can win the battle of the trenches, they can hear the tune of victory coming on Friday.
The game is December 30 at 3:30 p.m. It will be televised on ESPN.