Nov. 22, 2009
Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin gave his football team the day off Sunday for the second week in a row, this time after a 31-16 win over Vanderbilt on Senior Night at Neyland Stadium. The Vols are badly banged up on defense as both starting linebacker Greg King and starting cornerback Art Evans could be added to a growing injury list this week. But the UT seniors picked up the slack in their final home game vs. the Commodores and will need to do so again Saturday at Kentucky.
"After reviewing the game and watching the film, it wasn't much different that what we thought last night," Kiffin said. "Our seniors stepped up and played one of the better games since we've been here, starting with the two defensive tackles playing so well, both with sacks, and obviously Wes' (Brown) last play and the interception.
"I thought Rico (McCoy) played well after not playing well at Ole Miss. It was good to see a guy as old as that, a senior, still respond when you get on him for not playing as well as you expect him to. It was good to see that."
While seniors McCoy and Brown were the story on defense, the Vols also had a number of seniors step up on offense. The offensive line, featuring four seniors, did not allow a sack and paved the way for senior tailback Montario Hardesty to rush for a career-high 171 yards. Senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton was efficient, completing 20-of-34 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns as well.
"For the offensive line to give up no sacks, I would have taken that if you had told me with one game left in the regular season we'd be first in the SEC in sacks allowed. That's a big credit to those guys and our senior tailback.
"Jonathan didn't play his best game, but still put us in a position to win."
Tennessee will take its driven senior class and its depleted defense to Lexington for the 2009 regular-season finale on Saturday. The 105th meeting between the Vols and Wildcats kicks off at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPNU. UT has won 24-straight in the series, which is the longest active winning streak among yearly opponents in major college football.