Sept. 15, 2009
By TENNESSEE SPORTS INFORMATION
Opening Comments: "Obviously, it's a big-time matchup this week, trying to rebound from the disappointment from the UCLA game last week. It was tough for our guys looking at the film yesterday, going over it with them before practice, because there were so many ways we should have won the game.
"Our crowd was there early; our crowd was jacked up for the game and did a great job of helping us play really good on third down on defense. We didn't respond. We had a chance to finish. We had two drives in the fourth quarter, one 17-play drive and one 13-play drive, and we weren't able to finish able to finish like championship teams do. It's something we need to learn from. We need to learn how to finish and continue to improve as a team.
"Going into this week, going into a big time stadium with a big time crowd playing against the most talented team in the country - maybe the best team ever to play - we need to continue to improve our team. We need to improve each day in practice and go out and play well this week. We need to see our individuals and units get better. It's a long season and it's going to be very important for us to improve, especially as we continue to play some different guys. Since we're playing a lot of new guys, we need them to improve as well."
On freshmen playing this weekend:
"We have a long week ahead of us and we have a lot of work to do with them. Anytime freshman play, it's tough, especially when you go into a big-time rivalry game, a big-time atmosphere like this will be. We have a lot of work to do with all our players, this being our first road trip together as a staff and players."
On preparing for crowd noise and atmosphere of Florida:
"Crowd noise helps and we'll do that two days this week in practice for both sides of the ball. We have to develop a specific plan for what our guys are going to do, what our expectations are for them and not try to make them do everything when they go into that environment.
"We'll really work hard Saturday all the way through the end of the game to keep them calm, keep them focused on what's at hand. We'll keep them focused on things they can control, and not worried about things they can't control."
On not using the "underdog role" as motivation going into Saturday:
"I don't believe in the underdog role for motivation. If you're not motivated for this game, something's wrong with you. It's Tennessee versus Florida. Regardless of what the spread is or who's the favorite or who's the underdog, it's a big-time matchup. It's one that a lot of these kids have been watching for years and years growing up. I would be shocked if either side needs to motivate players."
More thoughts on the UCLA game:
"It's not about a lack of effort. We saw very good effort on the film. It's about assignments and not doing things right and being consistent. It was a result of the first game being almost like a preseason game because guys played so little because of the score. A lot of guys played 20 or 25 plays, and they suddenly have to go out and play four quarters.
"Even though we pretty much dominated the fourth quarter on both sides of the ball, I don't know if we knew how to finish at that point, being used to being out there for that many plays, regardless of how we trained in the off-season."
On anticipated intensity of game day at Florida:
"I don't know how it could be more intense. You have a big-time rivalry with two teams that every year come to play, one that Florida has dominated lately with four in a row. Urban has never lost to Tennessee. They've won by 63 points over the last two years combined. There's motivation over there, and I don't think I motivated them. I wasn't here yet.
"We know they're going to play very hard. They're extremely talented. I look at their defense, look at their 11 starters, and I think you have 11 NFL players. I would think they're maybe the most talented defense to ever play and maybe the best quarterback to ever play college football. We're going to have our hands full."
On quarterback Jonathan Crompton's confidence:
"We need him to play well, and I need to do a better job. I need to help him with better play calls and do a better job of managing the game for him to get him rolling a little bit, to get his confidence back. He played one game that wasn't very good, and he played one game that was almost perfect. We want him to play like the first game. One game will never define a player, and one game will never define us as a team. We'll make an assessment after a number of games, where we are as individuals and where we are as a team.
"Crompton's our quarterback. We have a lot faith in him. Like I said, I need to do a better job and we need to do a better job around him. We had a number of guys injured last week, so it's tough to be in rhythm when a lot of your receivers are banged up or are coming back from injuries after being out a number of weeks, especially your go-to receivers. We'll do a better job this week in practice with our timing and passing game, and I think that will help him Saturday."