Nov. 1, 2009
Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin didn't dismiss Saturday night's SEC victory over then 21st-ranked South Carolina as nothing special. Far from it.
The Vols beat a top-25 opponent for the first time since the end of the 2007 season and, in the process, evened their record at 4-4 heading into November. Tennessee turned four Gamecocks turnovers into 24 points in the 31-13 victory.
Still, Kiffin said after Sunday's practice that game tape revealed inconsistencies costing the team momentum, especially on one side of the football.
"I was very disappointed in the offense on the film. There were a lot of missed assignments and we left a lot of yards out there. Their defense did a good job, but it was about us.
"Our defense put us in position to score with the four turnovers, but we've got a long ways to go offensively. We could have lost that game by too many mistakes."
Tennessee's 21-0 lead in the game by early in the second quarter may have been a contributing factor.
"You always have the fear that if everything goes so well right away as a team in general -- all the energy of the jerseys and the crowd, it's an ESPN game and a late game -- how are you going to maintain that?" Kiffin said. "That's why most games usually come back. Most games don't end up 50-0. That's always a challenge.
"But we've got to play better. I thought (Montario) Hardesty played great; outside of that, nobody played great. We were just out of rhythm -- one guy here and one guy there. We just weren't very consistent."
Kiffin recognizes the magnitude of Saturday's result in that his squad overcame an uneven performance to win by 18 points on national television.
"If you can play poorly and still win, sometimes that helps you down the road. It gets your focus back and gets guys to understand they have a long ways to go.
UT's next opponent is Memphis (2-6), and Kiffin wants the preparation to stay where it should -- within the confines of Haslam Field and the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.
"Every game is different," Kiffin said. "The concern last week was if there was going to be a let-down (after the close loss at Alabama). Now the concern will be is there going to be a let-down because the opponent isn't ranked.
"We've already talked about it to the team. Go back to basics. Practice well, that's all that matters. Practice well, practice physical, practice hard and do things right. Carry it over and get better every day. Don't worry about who you're playing, where they're ranked and where the game is. It will always be about the way we practice. I think our guys are getting a better understanding of that."
-- Kiffin said junior linebacker Savion Frazier may not be as injured as initially thought. Kiffin said "the initial report sounded worse than what was said today," and that he would know more in the coming days, but Frazier possibly could play in Saturday's game.
-- Quarterback Jonathan Crompton on Saturday became the 14th quarterback in Tennessee history to eclipse 3,000 career passing yards. Crompton has 3,004 yards for his UT career, including 1,617 this season in his first full campaign as the starter.
-- The Vols are one win from reaching 300 all-time for the month of November. Tennessee enters Saturday's Homecoming game 299-116-21 during November.