Thanksgiving Day tradition was front and center Thursday when Tennessee held its ?Last Tackle? as part of a 90-minute practice inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.
Head coach Phillip Fulmer used the occasion to gather his seniors at one end of a double line of teammates and offer a few kind words about each individual.
?It?s been happening a long time, since before I became the coach,? Fulmer said of the annual custom. ?I think it?s just another way to honor the seniors. It?s a chance to say a little something about them.?
The players then took turns plowing into a tackling dummy one last time, to the cheers and salutes of their teammates.
Fulmer says the chance to play for an SEC championship has kept him from thinking too much about the 23 seniors playing their final games for the Big Orange. The Vols face Kentucky on Saturday in Lexington in a 1:30 p.m. Eastern time kickoff (CBS, Vol Network).
?Right now, we?re focused on getting ready for this game. The ceremonial things are ceremonial, but our focus is in the right place.
?We?ve had a good week of practice. Today was a mixed bag of things, including some things we have some fun with. But they also understand that when we go to third-down work, short-yardage or goal-line work, it?s all business.?
Tennessee has improved to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the SEC by virtue of winning seven of its last eight games. Kentucky sits at 7-4 overall, 3-4 in league play with victories this year at Arkansas, at Vanderbilt and at home against No. 1-ranked LSU.
?I don?t have a crystal ball,? Fulmer says of Saturday?s outcome. ?I tell our guys every week that if it?s 3-0, that?s fine, and if it?s 52-50, that?s fine. As long as we get the win.?