Vols Use Bye Week to Get Healthy and Recruit

(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Head coach Josh Heupel‘s inspired Tennessee team is balancing getting healthy and fostering player development during its open week, and the coaching staff will turn its attention to an important recruiting weekend on the road.

The Volunteers (4-4) went through a light practice on Tuesday, put on the pads for an indoor practice on Wednesday and will have another workout on Thursday before breaking for the weekend.

“I said it after the ball game (at Alabama) too, it’s important that we get a bunch of guys healthy here this week,” Heupel said. “That will be really important for us, and then, the opportunity for us to continue to sharpen our skills and get better too. A little bit more good-on-good work and then a little bit of Kentucky (preparation) too.

“Our entire staff will be out Thursday and Friday, (which is) really important for us. First and foremost, inside the state, and then continue throughout the areas we continue to go recruit. We need to finish this class and also push forward a little bit.”

Heupel’s team has established a clear identity eight games into his debut season. The Vols’ swift offense is averaging a nation-high 2.89 plays per minute and putting up 37.4 points per game, good for 17th in the FBS and fourth in the SEC – in the first year in a system.

Defensively, the attacking unit is tops in the nation in tackles for loss with 70. Special teams has excelled in the kicking game, in coverage and in blocking multiple punts with both of those coming from true freshmen. All three phases have generated tremendous feedback on the recruiting trail.

“They see the brand of football that we’re playing,” Heupel said. “It’s an exciting brand of football in all three phases of the game. They know we’re going to be aggressive. They know we’re going to play fast, not just in tempo, but the way our kids are able to cut it loose. They know we’re going to call it aggressive in all three phases of the football game. It’s something that is really attractive to players. The ability for them to see the environment inside of Neyland Stadium like it was a week ago and has been early in the season, is a huge part of the recruiting push that we have been able to make too.”

Tennessee returns to action at Kentucky on Nov. 6. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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