Kiffin on football players' arrests: To paraphrase, "No comment."
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The circus of reporters and crush of cameras gave Tennessee a different feel after practice.
During it, Lane Kiffin approached it like business as usual.
The first-year coach didn't make any public declaration of punishments, refused to divulge any details about incidents on Thursday morning and didn't address any specific situations about the status of freshmen Janzen Jackson, Nu'Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards after their early-morning arrest for attempted armed robbery. Instead Kiffin focused on the Vols that were around, seemingly sticking to a strict script both on the practice field and off since there's still a matter of heading to Mississippi (6-3, 2-3 SEC) for a critical game Saturday (TV: WVLT, noon).
"It's got nothing to do with what's going on with these guys," Kiffin said. "We needed to have a good practice today to prepare for a big-time game, and I thought the guys came out today and had a really good practice, thought they were very sharp, very focused, good meetings, good intensity out here, but we still have a lot of work to do before the game.
"I think it's always about your team, always about focus. Football is about adversity, life is about adversity, so no matter what happens with our guys on the field or off the field, we always (ask), 'How do you deal with adversity? How do you take the next step? How do you improve, how do you learn from it?'"
The Vols (5-4, 2-3) don't have many answers to those questions yet, and Kiffin gave even fewer about the status of the three players.
Kiffin acknowledged Jackson had been released on his own recognizance, but didn't address whether prior issues that led to a suspension last week would influence punishment for the blossoming star.
After praising Richardson's ability to bounce back from frustration over his role and a skipped practice before beating Memphis, Kiffin had nothing to add about one of the prizes of his recruiting class after another negative headline.
Edwards also didn't draw much mention, so all that seems certain at the moment is UT has a hole in the secondary without Jackson and there are a few opportunities up for grabs offensively with Richardson out at wide receiver. The former is a much more pressing concern since Jackson has started every game but two at free safety, but the Vols at least have a head start on replacing him since Waggner and Myles took his reps with the first-team last week while he served the suspension.
Kiffin hasn't announced another one for Jackson or any other form of discipline, but his spot was clearly available on Thursday. And for at least a couple hours, the only focus was trying to fill it.
"I don't know (who will start), I know that both players have practiced, Prentiss has practiced really well," Kiffin said. "Darren was out here moving around better today, had not moved around very much all week, so we'll have to test him out tomorrow and on game day.
"I can't say anything (in terms of suspensions) because we don't have all the information, and when we get it all in, we'll make a comment - just as the athletic director (Mike Hamilton) said today. We've got to get the information in, and we're not going to make any judgments until we have all the information in, and then we'll go from there once we get it."
Kiffin also didn't offer a timeframe he would work with, and technically he didn't even rule any of the three players out for the game against the Rebels.
But the Vols certainly when about their normal preparations without them as well as they could in the meantime.
"We'll deal with the three situations coming up," Kiffin said. "But until we have all the information I can't comment any further on it.
"We're gathering all the information, so we don't know exactly what happened. Unfortunately there was an incident. We made it 11 months and 11 days without any incidents."