No motivation needed for Vols

Kiffin not seeking out significance, just wants to beat Virginia Tech

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ATLANTA - Polls and public opinion don't seem to matter to Lane Kiffin.

The Tennessee coach doesn't exactly buy bowls as a springboard into next season, he's refused all year to place extra importance on one game and the Vols aren't playing for conference pride.

For the better part of a month Kiffin has shot down all the traditional sources of motivation for a New Year's Eve party with Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl (TV: ESPN, 7:30 p.m.). That doesn't mean UT doesn't care, though - it's just that beating the No. 11 Hokies is reward enough.

"I just think it's the next step for our program," Kiffin said. "To finish winning four out of the last five games, to win our last four SEC East games to finish second in the East, then to come in to what I would consider a BCS bowl and playing a top-11 opponent that's been to the Orange Bowl the last two years in a row, won the Orange Bowl a year ago and only had one player drafted off that team, it shows you how talented this team is that we're going to play (today).

"To be able to get that win would really help us a lot to finish up our first year as we go into our second recruiting class."

A win at the Georgia Dome might not improve it much, but it clearly wouldn't slow the process down.

The Vols (7-5) can already point out progress since the start of Kiffin's first season, though the signature performances have mostly come in narrow losses. Knocking off the Hokies (9-3) could vault UT into the top 25, give it something to add to the trophy case and help it make a case that it belongs with the conference elite again.

Whether Kiffin will admit it publicly or not, all of those would help his plan for rebuilding the program.

"That'd be huge," quarterback Jonathan Crompton said. "There were a few games early where we thought we could have won, but unfortunately we didn't. We finished up strong, we got into a good bowl game, playing a top-11 team, and it's something where we really want to come back and prove to ourselves that, 'Hey, those games that we didn't win, we should have. This is who we are.'

"It would be huge, especially for the guys coming back next year to be in the top 25, that would be huge for them."

The problem is the number of guys that won't be coming back after the bowl, including Crompton, almost the entire offensive line and probably superstar safety Eric Berry.

That's part of the reason Kiffin has downplayed the significance of winning to create momentum. To some extent the ball is already rolling anyway.

"I think in this particular case, as you look at it at the end of the year, we're playing one of the best - if not the best - teams in the SEC," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "I think anyone that looked at it and had followed football would say this team is right at the top of the SEC. We played Alabama and I saw how they played Alabama and took it right to them . . . and the bottom line is we're playing the best in the SEC and we understand that.

"If that field goal goes through against Alabama down there, I think it's a different situation for sure. But the bottom line is we're playing one of the best, if not the best team in the SEC. That's the facts."

Kiffin will certainly have a chance to prove it. But all that really seems to matter to him is having a better team than the Hokies.

The rest is just a bonus.

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Comments » 21

whw48#307211 writes:

what kind of trophy do you win for being in the top 25?

Fryinpansvols writes:

Allright guys its about that time to strap it on and play some more football! Show up and get after the Hokies. GBO!

rockytopatl writes:

Beamer is a classy guy, but we have no choice but to take him to the woodshed. Sorry, big guy.

Run the ball --- that's the best way to attack them and their play against the run is the closest thing they have to a weakness on defense. This is one team against which the run will set up the pass, not the other way around like Tennessee usually does it. Set Hardesty loose early and often.

Volsfan94 writes:

in response to whw48#307211:

what kind of trophy do you win for being in the top 25?

i think they are talking bout the Chick-fil-a trophy.

brianarauch#206642 writes:

Go Vols!

softball writes:

Ive been 2 times to atlanta to see he vols play, I asked fulmer for my money back each time. Play to win this time guys!!! I think Kiff will make them show up. go vols

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to softball:

Ive been 2 times to atlanta to see he vols play, I asked fulmer for my money back each time. Play to win this time guys!!! I think Kiff will make them show up. go vols

Me too! I saw our boys blow the 2001 SEC Championship game against LSU. A game in which would have put us in the National Title game if we would have won. I also went to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Maryland. We were never in that game. Then later that night in Buckhead I saw Casey Clausen and Jason Witten partying. Fulmer let those guys do what they wanted.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to whw48#307211:

what kind of trophy do you win for being in the top 25?

The "Who's Who"

BigLebowskiPhan writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Or if Donte didn't fumble... Very painful to watch...

Sballenger writes:

in response to whw48#307211:

what kind of trophy do you win for being in the top 25?

Hey Genius... yeah, you: whw48#307211... You may not have heard about this, but teams are awarded trophies for winning bowl games. It's kind of a new thing that's been going on for like 90 years.

eggsuckndogg writes:

in response to whw48#307211:

what kind of trophy do you win for being in the top 25?

Hey box of rocks........he meant the bowl game trophy!

hueypilot writes:

in response to BigLebowskiPhan:

Or if Donte didn't fumble... Very painful to watch...

Travis Stephens fumbled too but the coffin nail was failure to make Saint Nick pay for going for it from inside his own 30 on fourth down and not making it. We were only able to try a long field goal and miss. You could start the demise of the Fulmer era with that series of plays.

Volsnfl writes:

in response to whw48#307211:

what kind of trophy do you win for being in the top 25?

UHHHH Chick-Fi-La Trophy?

jman33163 writes:

Game day baby!!!!!!!!!

Go Big Orange!!!!!!!!!

vol_4_fan writes:

Go Vols! Play a good game and the rankings (if any) & recruiting will take care of itself.

Kicknchickn writes:

in response to whw48#307211:

what kind of trophy do you win for being in the top 25?

No need to worry about it as the Vols are going to get smoked tonight. Hokies have too much talent on both sides of the ball and special teams.

Happy New year to the VOLS but tonight will not be fun.

Go Hokies!

volsfannsc writes:

in response to BigVolMan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thought I was the only one to pick up on that. Smart coaching on Beamer's part. VT has a unique style that allows their offense to utilize many weapons. Once they find a niche- they stay with it until you stop it. I predict that VT will hit hard and fast in the first half. At halftime, I see the adjustments being made and we start playing OUR game. Vols 23 VT 17

GainesvilleVol1 writes:

I don't think sugar would melt in Beamer's mouth. Almost Lou Holtz worthy. This is a very talented, and well coached team, and it will take our A+ game to win. I've got the Jack Daniels ready to keep my "hollerin" voice ready! Let's play some Kiffin ball, not Beamer Ball!! EB, take one to the house tonight!!

GO VOLS!!!! UT 31 VT 28

AWOLVol writes:

in response to Kicknchickn:

No need to worry about it as the Vols are going to get smoked tonight. Hokies have too much talent on both sides of the ball and special teams.

Happy New year to the VOLS but tonight will not be fun.

Go Hokies!

VT certainly has talent, no doubt about it. But I'd say that the tale of why these two teams are facing each other in this particular bowl is the tale of an under-achieving team and an over-achieving team. VT should have won the ACC. The Turkeys under-achieved. The Vols were not even expected to be bowl eligible...and yet, here we are. Given the choice, in a bowl situation I'll take over-achievers over under-achievers any day. Your team will probably feel like they should be playing in Miami and might just mail it in. Meanwhile our team is excited to be there and knows that it's a crucial step back for our program. Plus, we're battle tested in the SEC while y'all couldn't even handle the likes of North Carolina and Ga Tech...oh, and another SEC team, Alabama. Somehow I like our chances.

gatorhator4eva writes:

i would say that the hokies are a team not to be taken lightly. time and time again they have proved they can keep up with the some of the best. but i think Monte and his defense will be to much for them, Kiffin will need to run hard on them, and Compton must play well as we know he can. i see this one real close at the the end 28-24, vols.

go vols!!

ChattMac writes:

I just hope the "well-rested", or "Rusty" Crompton doesn't return to his former self..I can only feel from watching all the other games that the passing teams have not performed well. Look at Houston and so far Missouri today..
Not that we're a passing team, but I just hope that we have some new wrinkles for this game...V Tech is a lot like BAMA..They wait for you to screw up and then they take advantage of it..

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