Sept. 24, 2009
Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin has his sights set on immediate results when the Vols open a crucial three-game homestand Saturday night against Ohio.
"We've got three in a row at home and we want to be 3-0 going into the bye. But we've got to get to 1-0 before we get to 3-0," Kiffin said. The Vols return to SEC play after Saturday's contest, hosting Auburn and Georgia the following two weeks.
"We need to make sure our players understand that this is a big-time game, and it's of major importance that we play extremely well."
Tennessee stands 1-2 after close losses the last two weeks to UCLA and Florida. Does Kiffin feel the need to make an immediate impact over this upcoming stretch of games?
"There are no make-or-breaks in your first year," Kiffin said. "We've got a long ways to go, a lot of work to do and a lot of stuff to figure out. We've got a lot of young guys to play and a lot of competition to sort through.
"You're trying to improve and trying to get your team better, which is what we're trying to do this week. So there is never a make-it-or-break-it your first year."
Still, Kiffin hopes the Vols can re-energize their season this weekend against the 2-1 Bobcats.
"We do know when that bye is coming and we have three games. We need to play extremely well, keep improving. And then in the bye week we have certain plans that we do with certain players to increase the competition at that point. So this is a big stretch for us -- one game at a time."
Thursday's practice at Haslam Field was good, according to the head coach. Kiffin anticipates Wes Brown (knees) and LaMarcus Thompson (back) seeing action despite both battling injuries during the week.
Kickoff Saturday is set for 7 p.m. Eastern time, with the Vol Network and VideoSeat pay-per-view covering the action.
-- Senior tailback Montario Hardesty is this week's CAREacter Star Athlete of the Week.
Hardesty stands second in the SEC and 10th nationally with a rushing average of 115 yards per game. The New Bern, N.C., native is closing in on 1,500 career rushing yards, needing 109 this Saturday to reach that milestone. Off the field, Hardesty has taken on more of a role in the team's outreach efforts. He is a regular on hospital visits and has become a favorite with the local boys and girls clubs.