Sept. 21, 2009
BY DREW EDWARDS
Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin was short and sweet in response to comments from Florida Urban Meyer that the Vols weren't playing to win during Saturday.
"I'd say this: This offseason, the commissioner made a big deal about a renewal of vows and what we're supposed to say about other teams, other coaches and other players," Kiffin said following practice on Monday when asked about Meyer's comments. "Obviously Urban feels he doesn't need to follow that. We won't say anything else."
Asked if he would make a comment about an opposing team not playing to win, Kiffin responded: "No. I would never say that."
Trailing by 17 points with about 11 ½ minutes in Saturday's 23-13 loss in The Swamp to the top-ranked Gators, Tennessee didn't go into its no-huddle offense.
Instead, the Vols ran the ball five times and passed twice, all from predominantly run-oriented formations. The drive in question ended with a 17-yard touchdown from Montario Hardesty that made the score 23-13 with 8:11 remaining.
Kiffin said he didn't feel like Tennessee's no-huddle offense could have caused more problems than it solved.
"If we put three (wide receivers) on the field, which is what our no-huddle is, you get into their two-down line where they stand everybody up and move them around," Kiffin said. "That's very difficult to protect, especially in that stadium with the crowd because you have to change all your protections.
"That was the best thing in order to put us in a position to win, and we moved the ball doing that. That was the style we need to be playing."
Meyer, however, said Sunday that he felt the Vols weren't trying to win.
"When I saw them start handing the ball off, I didn't feel like they were going after the win," Meyer said, according to the Associated Press. "They wanted to shorten the game. I think that was the play. There are 10 minutes to go, and they're not in a no-huddle. It's 23-6 and no urgency."
The Vols continued to run the ball early in their final possession of the game as well.
Montario Hardesty ran once for 7 yards and 3 yards, but the Vols then threw a pass on six of the next seven plays before the drive ended with an Ahmad Black interception at the Gators' 26-yard line.
And while Kiffin didn't have much to say about Meyer's comments, he did have an interesting take when asked if the Vols had been affected by the flu, as Florida, Ole Miss and other teams in the SEC have been lately.
"I don't know," Kiffin said. "I guess we'll wait and see and after we're not excited about a performance, we'll tell you that everybody was sick."