Sept. 14, 2009
BY DREW EDWARDS
Coordinator Monte Kiffin's defense has been more than solid through the first two games of the season. But that group will face its toughest test so far - and perhaps for the entire season - when the Vols travel to Gainesville for Saturday's 3:30 p.m. kickoff (TV: CBS) against No. 1 Florida.
Kiffin talks about the Gators' speed on offense, why it doesn't matter whether linebacker Nick Reveiz is 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-8 and more in this Q&A.
What stands out to you in watching Florida's offense? "I've watched them a lot. Watched a lot of their games last year, watched them this summer some and then of course the first two games this year. They really haven't changed. They're unbelievable. They're one of the fastest teams I've ever seen, and I've been in the NFL. They're like an NFL team with their speed. That's why they're going to have a lot of draft picks."
What impresses you most about Tim Tebow? "He's smart. He knows what he's doing. He can read defenses. He's a great competitor. He's everything you want. They've got the whole package."
"A lot of teams can have great quarterbacks, great running backs, (but) they don't have the offensive line. They lose two seniors in the offensive line, two tackles, and they replace them. Somebody else just steps up, and you can't even tell any difference. They're very well coached.
"Their coordinator is the offensive line coach. Two things I always check out first - who is the offensive line coach and who's your coordinator. It just so happens (Steve Addazio) is both. (Former Gators offensive coordinator and current Mississippi State coach) Dan Mullen's a great coach, and being with him and knowing the system, they haven't dropped off at all."
Defensively, you guys have put up some great numbers in the first two games. I know numbers don't always tell the story, but what do you like about the way the defense has played?
"We still think we should have played better last week, without a doubt. We've got to move on to the next game, but we watched the tape today. It wasn't good enough. We can play better than that. You could win the game 13-10. There's no rule that says you can't win 13-10. The offense is going to be a little bit off some days, and your defense has got to come through."
Coming from Tampa Bay, what's your familiarity with the Florida coaching staff?
"I was down there watching pro day. I knew some of the coaches and stuff, we've visited some. When you go to a pro day (Urban Meyer) has always been cordial, that type of thing. The thing I noticed the most on the day I was there, all their guys that weren't in the draft that year, they're all coming back. I didn't know I was going to be at Tennessee coaching against them. (smiles) I really remember now."
Middle linebacker Nick Reveiz seems like he's played really well the last couple of games. What has he done to get to this point?
"I knew the name because I was at the Vikings when his father (former UT kicker Fuad Reveiz) was the kicker there. When I came here, to tell you the truth, I did not even know his son was playing football at Tennessee.
"One day I asked Nick, `How tall are you?' and he said, `5-9.' I said, `You're not 5-9. You're 5-8.' But you know what? It doesn't matter. This guy can make plays. He's really a good football player. He's not just a guy that plays hard, knows football. He's got football instincts, and he's a good hitter."