Vols in Miami, set for Orange Bowl clash

Published 6:05 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2022

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Tennessee arrived in Miami on Christmas Day in preparation for its Dec. 30 Capital One Orange Bowl matchup against ACC champion Clemson.

Tennessee held its final practice in Knoxville on Dec. 22, and the team then enjoyed two days with their families for Christmas before making the trek to Miami on Christmas.

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“We are so excited to be here,” UT coach Josh Heupel said. “Our university is extremely proud to be in this great, historic bowl game. It’s great to be in the city of Miami. This is a huge step for our program with the opportunity to play in this game. We haven’t been here in almost 25 years. There are a lot of proud VFLs, and they are looking forward to getting down to South Florida and being at this football game. I am really proud of what our players and coaches have accomplished this season.”

It’s been exactly one month since the sixth-ranked Vols (10-2) put the finishing touches on a memorable regular season. On Monday, UT will treat its first practice in Miami like a game-week “Tuesday” at Barry University. The practice is closed to the general public.

Friday’s matchup will see the nation’s No. 1 offense clash against a top-20 Tiger defense that allows only 20.1 points per game.

“There are great players all over the field when teams like this get together,” Heupel said. “At the end of the day, you have to do what you do and have some wrinkles that put your kids in a position to be successful. A bowl game with a long layoff, you have to go out and execute. Our preparation back home but certainly this week, when we are in meetings and when we are out on the practice field, you have to do it at a really high level.”

Bowl week is a South Florida homecoming of sorts for quarterback Joe Milton III, who will be making his second straight start. Milton grew up in Pahokee before moving to Orlando.

“This is a homecoming for him,” Heupel said. “This is a guy who is from South Florida. He’s going to have a lot of family and friends here for the game. This means a lot to him. He’s someone inside our program who has had a voice and been a leader all year long. He’s prepared really consistently.”

Friday’s kickoff is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN.