Monte Kiffin has had a couple weeks to prepare, and he still has one more.
The Tennessee defensive coordinator will take all of the time he can get.
A full season's worth of game film has given Kiffin plenty to work with as he breaks down Virginia Tech for the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve in Atlanta (TV: ESPN, 7:30 p.m.). But all it has really done is give him more to worry about. The Vols already knew they'd have their hands full with the versatile Hokies.
"Well, I'll tell you what I'd like," Kiffin said. "I'd like to have another three weeks. We'd be ready then, you know what I mean? That'd be great.
"We can't do that, so we'd better get ready."
The Vols (7-5, 4-4 SEC) did plenty of that over four physical practices leading into Christmas break, and they've been doing even more of it in the film room since the match-up was set earlier this month.
They've seen the offense line of the Hokies (9-3, 6-2 ACC) grow together and build more confidence. Every yard running back Ryan Williams gained during his breakout freshman season has been viewed at least once, and UT has seen all the issues multi-purpose quarterback Tyrod Taylor can pose.
At this point, the biggest problem for Kiffin might just be trying to get the loop of Hokies video to stop playing in his head as the Vols buckle down for one last week of practice starting Saturday.
"If I put on the tape which our players have seen, you would be amazed if you put up all 12 games," Kiffin said. "And see the problem is, when you play somebody the third game or the fourth game or the fifth, then you've only got four or five games; then, of course, you go back and look at last year. When you play somebody after 12 games, you have a four-game scouting report then you go back and you see them all.
"So when you prepare for a bowl game, it's kind of like the home opener. There's a lot of tape to look at, and the more tape you look at, I just see No. 5 (Taylor) making plays and making plays and making plays, I've seen too many plays. I've seen too much tape. I've got to quit watching so much tape."
Kiffin might not exactly like what he's seen, but at least the Vols have had ample time to scheme for the Hokies and get healthy.
The latter should be a bigger benefit for Kiffin, who should have Art Evans back at cornerback, Dan Williams and Wes Brown rested at defensive tackle despite concussion problems and a reenergized Chris Walker at end. Throw safety Janzen Jackson back in the mix as well after missing three games late in the season and the Vols almost look close to full strength.
"We've had a lot of good practice time, quality time," Kiffin said. "I think I feel good about some of our players again; they're just getting a lot of reps. Even (coach) Lane (Kiffin) said one day after practice, 'Gosh, it seems like the defense is really feeling it better.'
"This is a tough preparation because Virginia Tech does a lot of things, they're all over the place. Their quarterback, he's outstanding. Just all of a sudden, you don't know that much about Virginia Tech. We just hadn't followed them all year that much, but we put the tape on and we saw the running back and the quarterback. But we've had some good preparation."
Kiffin wouldn't mind sneaking in a little more. But the Vols are tapped out on film for now.
Hit The Road: The last four practices were crammed with intensity and a few injuries. That was apparently enough to convince Lane Kiffin that Tennessee didn't need to use a fifth practice that was originally scheduled for today.
"I just felt that we had really (worked), almost to a point of overworking them, and with the practices being so long and so physical, they needed some time off," Kiffin said. "Our injuries were mounting, a lot of concussions happening, so it was good timing. We'll get all of our meetings in and an extra lift in and then they'll get out of here and get a chance to get back home."
The Vols will report back for work Friday in Atlanta with the first practice scheduled for Saturday.
Kickin' It: Kiffin opened up the place-kicking battle to all three Vols who attempted field goals this season. A fourth option might have taken the lead during the competition though.
Daniel Lincoln, Devin Mathis and Chad Cunningham all struggled with missed or blocked kicks at the close of the workout, which prompted Kiffin to start thinking of another alternative.
"We've had two different competitive settings like that where we've let all three guys kick, and we'll continue to do that down there," Kiffin said. "It's not the way you want to finish practice, but I wasn't going to stay out there and keep getting kicks blocked or miss them.
"We'll go for it I guess."
Bumps and Bruises: The Vols held right tackle Aaron Douglas out of practice after he injured his ankle late in practice on Sunday, though Kiffin indicated the freshman would have played if necessary.
UT also added another name to its concussion list after Bryce Brown suffered one Monday. Wes Brown and Dan Williams each were limited with the same injury throughout the weekend.