Flights arrive in Nashville and resume preparations for the Music City Bowl

NASHVILLE – After a three-day Christmas break, Tennessee football gathered in Nashville for the TransPerfect Music City Bowl with the first of four practices Sunday afternoon at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Volunteers arrived Christmas night at Gaylord Opryland and treated Sunday’s practice as a “Tuesday” of play week with position meetings in the morning and two hour practice in the middle of the day.

“It’s great to be here and start preparing our bowl here on site”, the head coach Josh Heupel noted. “(The student-athletes) traveled yesterday and were able to get here, relatively, quite well, just a few flying issues. It was great training today, good energy and we look forward to the rest of the week. . “

Heupel’s offense, set to set a points record for the program in a single season, received important news ahead of Christmas as the main wide receiver Cedric Tillman has announced his intention to return for his 2022 senior season. He returns to the return of starting quarterback Hendon hooker, who ranks third nationally for passing efficiency this season (182.15).

“It’s a great representation to keep putting your head down, to keep working,” Heupel said of Tillman. “The more you invest in it, the more you will get out of it. It doesn’t always happen to everyone the first day you walk onto campus. You are going to face adversity. You have to keep competing throughout your career. career. It’s at that level, it’s at the next level if you’re able to get to that point. It’s a great example of continuing to work and compete. He’s a young man who played really well. , but has a bright future in this game. It will only continue to improve. “

Tillman heads to the Music City Bowl at just 69 receiving yards before becoming the Flights’ first 1,000 yard receiver since Justin Hunter in 2012. Tillman recorded 57 catches for 931 yards and nine touchdowns, which is tied at the end of the game. ranked fourth in the SEC.

Tennessee will practice again Monday at Vanderbilt.

As a precaution, Monday’s official TransPerfect Music City Bowl welcome party at the Wildhorse Saloon has been canceled, bowl officials said on Sunday.

Kick-off for UT and Purdue will take place at 2:00 p.m. CT on December 30 at Nissan Stadium. Tickets for the match are on sale through the Bowl at For more information on the bowl, visit

The Head Coach Josh Heupel Media availability
December 26, 2021

Opening statement
“It’s great to be here and start our bowl prep here on site. (The student-athletes) traveled yesterday and were able to get here, relatively, well enough, just a few flight issues. great workout today, great energy and looking forward to the rest of the week. “

On the meaning of the Nashville area in recruiting and fans …

“It’s a big part of our ability to recruit from within the state. As I said as soon as I arrived here, it’s a priority. For us, it just starts with building relationships – high school coaches, our VFLs who are here in the region. We have a lot of good players from this region who are fortunate enough to come home and play in front of their families. He is vital for us as a program, that we are doing it the right way. This region, obviously, has a talented environment, and we need to continue to build those relationships. “

On the Purdue pass attack …

“They have playmakers on the perimeter. They do a great job of getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. He’s a good decider, precise with that, does a good job of taking care of it. doing a great job (in the) perimeter screen game, beating blocks and going to play in space. Defensively, for us, we have to do a great job of affecting the quarterback. If we can them. placing third and long and putting some pressure on them, that’s going to be critical. At the same time, with some of their fast play, we have to find a way to cause problems with the windows and allow them to deliver the football. “

On the COVID-19 situation …

“We have been very fortunate that our guys who are not vaccinated have done a great job taking care of them throughout the year. We will continue to follow the testing protocols established by the league. children are smart in the way they behave and make sure they take care of themselves, their teammates and their families. “

On the team’s goal in practice today …

“I thought there was a lot of energy today. From the time we went to the meetings, but then on the training ground, the guys were lively. We have things to clean up here before we start, too, but like the energy and focus that we’ve seen from our guys. “

On return from Cedric Tillman for next season …

“He’s a guy who, since we got here, has been improving every phase, offseason, spring prom, over the summer. He has continued to gain self-confidence through his habits. of work, to what he’s been doing throughout the course of the season; keep getting better and better. I think he’s got a much higher cap than even how he played at the end of this year. We’re delighted to see him back. He’s a mature competitor who is becoming a great leader inside the wide receiver room in particular. He’s a huge pickup for us as a program. to get it back. “

At Cedric Tillman representing the growth in coaching that players can have …

“It’s a great representation to keep putting your head down, to keep working. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it. It doesn’t always happen to everyone the first day you walk on campus. For some, This is the case. You are going to face adversity. You have to keep competing throughout your career. It is at this level, it is at the next level if you are able to reach this point C. He is a great example of continuing to work and compete. He is a young man who has played very well, but has a bright future in this game. He will only continue to improve. “

Lit if there is another level at Hendon hooker Game …

“Of course I was just talking about Ced, Hendon is an example of those same things. It didn’t go perfectly for him at the start of the year. Dude, he kept putting his nose down and did. than compete and work harder. You look at how he’s played throughout the season – he’s a young player, I know he’s coming back for his final year, but he continues to improve in everything he does. he does it all season long, for him in the offseason to be comfortable with what we do, but being able to just follow shift school with us, understand football better and improve fundamentally. These are things that, when he returns in January, we’ve already identified what he can improve on. It’s just constant growth and evolution of who you are as a player. “

On the feeling of a home game with the atmosphere and the supporters in good shape …

“I’m excited about the game day environment, absolutely so are our players. It’s Tennessee Territory and happy to see all of our fans here.”

On the status of the second cornerback position before the match …

“Throughout the season one guy is down, the next guy is building up. I believe in the guys who will be playing there when we get to game day. He won’t just be a guy I don’t think about. throughout the whole 60 minutes, but I can’t wait to see these guys compete. “

On OL’s progress Jeremiah Crawford

“Dude this is a guy from junior college who came here in the middle of the summer and continued to build his strength and conditioning just with his frame and strength as we got through the first part of Basically, just understanding and growing in the position, has grown a ton throughout this one and (we) expect him to continue to improve here as part of our schedule. “

If it is difficult to maintain a workout routine at a bowl site …

“It’s definitely different, right? They have the chance to go explore (and) see the city and have fun with each other in the afternoons. There are no classes, there are none of that. But all the bowl preparation is a bit like that. For us our routine was when we get to the bowl site is a little different, but we always meet in the morning and practice in the morning . They take the afternoon. (We have) extended the meetings just a little bit in the morning to cover what we would normally do in our afternoon meetings. “

If it is a chance for some of the young receivers to find work …

“They did it during bowl setup, they will potentially have match day opportunities as well. That’s 15 practices for our entire program, wide receivers included, with a chance to improve.”

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