KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — With all the hoopla surrounding Saturday’s “Battle at Bristol,” it’s easy to forget there’s an actual football game on the schedule.
Considering the elements and mammoth venue, the coaching staffs at Tennessee and Virginia Tech took the opportunity this summer to asses the gargantuan setup.
“I’m unaware of a Bristol trip,” Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said, smiling.
“It was a secret reconnaissance mission. I’ve been to Bristol Motor Speedway, yes. It’s a great environment.”
Shoop, as well as Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, prefers to call a game from the press box, so during their summer tour the staff made sure the operations element satisfied a normal gameday routine.
“From the side, it’s fine,” Shoop explained.
“If I were sitting in the end zone I wouldn’t want an end zone seat if the ball was on the other side. You’d have that big giant scoreboard in your way. But I feel like our research has told us we’re going to be fine and not have any problems. We’ll be behind their bench, so we should be able to see personnel substitutions pretty well.”
During a follow-up question he again said, “I don’t think being from the press box is going to be a problem. It’s not necessarily the width from the field but the length in the end zone seats. If I were calling the game from the end zone and the ball were on the other side of the field that would be a disaster. But where we’re going to be sitting it’s not going to be any problem at all.”
Although the Vols don’t anticipate any communication issues Saturday, they’ll hold an extensive walkthrough on the Bristol field Friday, ironing out any potential gameday pitfalls.
“I don’t anticipate any,” head coach Butch Jones said.
“But obviously (if) there is sudden change and if the sight lines become an issue, they are prepared to come down and call the game (from the field) but right now everything is about rhythm and routine. So I don’t see them being on the sidelines. We have gone there, preliminarily before the field was down, and it looked like we wouldn’t have any issues with the sight lines.”