Nov. 8, 2009
BY DREW EDWARDS
Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin almost proved prophetic.
Before Saturday's 56-28 homecoming victory over Memphis, Kiffin told his team that safety Eric Berry would break the NCAA record for career interception return yardage.
Most thought it would happen by now. Berry entered the season (and Saturday's game) needing just 15 yards to break Terrell Buckley's all-time record.
So when he grabbed his second interception of the year in the second quarter, most of the 94,636 in Neyland Stadium expected to see the record fall. Berry twice reversed field, but couldn't find a lane to take off down the field.
His return went for 7 yards and upped his career interception return total to 494 yards, which still leaves 8 yards to go to break Buckley's record.
But Kiffin, who spent a moment with Berry on the sidelines after the play, thought the record had already fallen.
"I actually thought he broke the record on the play," Kiffin said. "That's why everything was taking so long. I kind of made a big deal of it. I still thought he did until the end of the game when somebody told me."
Berry moved into a tie for the active career lead in interceptions for the Football Bowl Subdivision, and he added five tackles and a fumble recovery to his second interception of the year Saturday night.
"He played great," Kiffin said, before offering another prediction, "and he'll eventually get the record."
Nuked: Freshman receiver Nu'Keese Richardson scored his first career touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Crompton in the second quarter.
For the night, Richardson finished with three catches for 54 yards. Entering Saturday's game, he had five catches for 48 yards in the Vols' previous eight games.
Big Returns from Oku: Freshman running back David Oku returned the opening kickoff 63 yards Saturday, and very nearly recorded his first kickoff return for a touchdown.
Memphis Deante' Lamar caught Oku at the Tigers' 24-yard line.
For the year, though, Oku has made his presence felt even if he hasn't quite gotten to the end zone on a return.
"Oku's definitely dynamic," offensive lineman Jacques McClendon said. "He's done a great job giving us great field position."
Lincoln Returns: Kicker Daniel Lincoln returned after missing last week's win over South Carolina with a strained quadriceps.
The junior connected on all eight of his extra points against Memphis.
He did not attempt a field goal.
Turnover Feast: The Vols forced three turnovers against Memphis, bring their total to seven turnovers forced in their last two games.
More impressive, though, is what Tennessee has done with those freebies.
Six of the seven possessions created by turnovers have ended with touchdowns, and the other resulted in a field goal.