Nov. 7, 2009
TENNESSEE LOCKER ROOM
Head Coach Lane Kiffin
Opening statement: "It was good to get a win today at home to keep us on track. We've been playing pretty well lately. I thought the first half we played well and it was 42-7 at half. Jonathan had a great game. The receiver group played well. I think they caught five touchdowns as a group, and that was a group we really challenged this week because they did not play well last week. We lost the fourth quarter for the first time, I think, all season, and that was depressing to see. It doesn't matter who is in there. We need to play better, and obviously we need to go recruit. We're a little down after the game because of the way we finished. We need to finish better, it does not matter who is in there."
On third down conversions: "In the first half I thought we were pretty good on third down because Jonathan was accurate and guys were making plays. It's a good example of guys doing things right and not losing one-on-one matchup and guys making some tough plays. It was good to see, especially since it was a big focus this week."
On the intensity of the team: "Toward the end of the week it came to me that I had to make sure the team felt my intensity and that the team felt how much we were going after this thing. Obviously, they were very motivated throughout the week from the (Memphis) coach's comments. I had to really make sure they knew we were going after this thing. So I told them there would be fourth downs where we will go for it. We're going to throw a halfback pass. We're going to try an onside kick. It was so they felt the coaches were being very aggressive so we didn't come out and have a letdown game after we had such a big game last week."
On being aggressive in play calling early in the game: "The players need to feel that, especially in our first year. The more that we can be in tune to situations, the more we can learn from that. You can't practice it. It was really good for us to go down and get that touchdown right before the half. That was a very good drive with some big plays on that drive."
On Jonathan Crompton's recent string of success: "He's developing in the system. It's his first year in the system, and he continues to get players being healthy week in and week out. We just got Quintin (Hancock) back today. The philosophy of playing the freshmen early, I think, is helping. You saw Nu'Keese (Richardson) make some plays today. Marsalis (Teague) played well. Those guys have played already. It's not like we didn't play them and all of a sudden we play them because the game is a blowout. So I think that helps us. And it's helped Jonathan a ton. They're making plays for him."
On UT's improvement on offense: "Our offensive line has been playing really good as of late. I can't remember the last time I got hit more than once or twice in a game, so that's a compliment to them. Our receivers are really starting to gel together. They really are. Our tight ends and running backs are all getting involved in the passing game as well. And whenever we pass and they have to block, they do a tremendous job too."
On having so many open receivers: "We knew we'd have guys open as long as we ran the routes at the right depths, and I threw it on time, and the O-line block just like they did. We expected some things to be there, and that's why we game planned that way."
On leading the SEC in touchdown passes: "That's a good thing, and that's saying a lot about our team. It's not an individual goal, in my mind. That's really just the O-Line doing their job. And the receivers catching the ball and making plays. I can count numerous times that Montario has cut somebody at the line to give me an extra half second to throw the ball.It's a good feeling to say, `I lead the SEC' but that's not what we care about. We care about W's."
On his first start: "Practice was harder than the game to me because the coaches are always really hard. Getting in and watching extra film helped a lot. Getting everybody lined up was the whole key to everything. So once I got everyone lined up, I was able to just relax and play ball."
MEMPHIS LOCKER ROOM
Head Coach Tommy West
Opening Statement: "In the first half, we didn't get anything done that we came into the game to get done, offensively, defensively or special teams. Offensively, we come out in the second half and get the things done that we came into the game to get done. Run the ball between the tackles and on our perimeter screens. We got it going, got in our rhythm, and got our tempo going. I thought our offense played really well. Defensively, we came in knowing that we had to stop the back. For the most part, we did. I've never been in a game quite like this where we could not cover them. We tried everything we possibly could. We tried man, we tried zone, we tried two deep, we tried three deep. We came in to play three deep to play off, make them throw the ball in front of us. We're hurt at corner with D.A. (Griffin) not playing, and we couldn't cover them in three deep. For whatever reason, we could not cover their guys. Special teams got better in the second half. I challenged the team at halftime to try and win the second half, and they did. They went out and did what we wanted to try and get done. I don't know if we got stage fright in the first half or what happened in the first half."
On the offense's struggles in the first half: "We didn't get it blocked inside and we weren't good on the perimeter screen game. And that's our offense. What they do defensively was a perfect setup for us. That's what we like to do it against. We struggled against it in the first half for whatever reason. They didn't exactly put the twos in to start the second half either. Offensively, we executed, we did our jobs, and I thought we did them well. We got in a rhythm. We could never quite get in a rhythm in the first half."
On the matchup of his offense vs. the UT defense: "They're more of a zone type team. That helps our perimeter screen game. Press coverage type stuff hurts our perimeter screen game. We got to go inside with it. They gave us a chance to run our perimeter screen game and we executed it pretty well in the second half."
On Lane Kiffin going for it on fourth down up two scores: "I don't take offense to that at all; he's trying to win the game. It's the same thing I'd be doing. It's our job to stop them on fourth down."
LB Jamon Hughes
On what the Tigers did to prepare for UT running back Montario Hardesty: "Hardesty is a great back and we knew that coming into this game. We watched a lot of film on him. We took a look at his tendencies and what he likes to do and we tried to prepare for those. He is a very strong back. He tries to stay on his feet, so we tried to get his legs. And we knew he loves to cut back, so we tried to have people in those cut back lanes to stop him."
QB Will Hudgens
On Memphis' poor start to the game: "From the opening snap when (the ball) went over my head it kind of spiraled out of control from there pretty bad. They had an onside kick they recovered. Thankfully, they were offsides so it didn't count. Things weren't clicking right for us in the first half, but this team fights. We've been fighting all year. Coach (West) challenged us to come back at halftime. We fought our butts off and we didn't give up.
On whether playing Tennessee holds extra significance: "It's an in-state rivalry. I consider it kind of like Ole Miss, more of a social rivalry more than anything. There are a lot of guys that played against each other or know each other that play on both teams. Whether you like the guy or not, it kind of adds a little to it. It's a fun game to have on your schedule, especially when you come play in Knoxville. It's special to do that.
On what the team will take from the second half: "We put up 28 points against a really good defense. You've got to have confidence after that. This team is a bunch of fighters. We are going to show up tomorrow and go back at it, and keep working our butts off to get better each week."
RB Curtis Steele
On his and the team's second-half turnaround: "Coach (West) told us just to keep fighting. It's up to us to turn things around. We just stuck together. The offensive line was firing off the ball and getting us some yardage, and giving us some creases to hit. Will did a good job with the outside-screen game and our wideouts did a good job of blocking downfield.
On rushing for 144 yards and scoring two touchdowns against the Vols: "It means a lot. When things get tough, just keep doing your job and eventually things will open up for you. I just kept doing that. The offensive line and wide receivers had my back. I just kept doing my job and things opened up for us."