Vols not very special

Kiffin says misses, mistakes 'hurting us a lot right now'

Lane Kiffin had an offense that couldn't convert on third down.

The Tennessee coach had a defense that failed to create a turnover and repeatedly missed tackles.

But he saved perhaps his harshest criticism for the third phase after the Vols dropped a 26-22 decision to Auburn on Saturday night. UT missed kicks, punts, returners and blocks in another disappointing effort by its special teams, a performance that helped keep the Vols winless in the SEC and send them back to the conference undercard for next week's home date with Georgia (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.).

"The momentum of missing the field goal on the opening drive and (then) the extra point, then having a couple (long) kickoff returns did not help us special teams-wise either," Kiffin said. "I thought we lost in all three phases, which is very disappointing, especially for our SEC home opener.

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"We've got to get a lot better on special teams. It's hurting us a lot right now."

For the most part, the wounds are self-inflicted.

UT (2-3, 0-2 SEC) opened the game with an exciting kickoff return from David Oku and quickly moved into field-goal position on the ensuing drive. But once it sputtered, Daniel Lincoln hooked an ugly 39-yard kick left and low to undo the early momentum.

Then after a three-and-out on the next possession, Chad Cunningham followed suit by squibbing a punt off the side of his foot just 27 yards to set up the Tigers near midfield.

From then on the Vols were beat by big returns and missed blocks that kept them from responding with their productive plays. They also looked downright confused at times - doing everything from taking bad penalties to leaping up and straddling a rolling punt after misjudging it.

"It's something that we said when we got here, especially when you're beginning what you're doing in the program and we're trying to establish what we're doing," Kiffin said. "You know there's going to be an adjustment with the offense and with depth, and it takes some time to recruit. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is play special teams, and we've seen that formula work for a lot of people.

"They didn't have maybe an explosive offense and they played OK defense, but they played great special teams, a team like Virginia Tech has done it for years. We've put more emphasis on it than any place I've ever been around or that our staff has ever been around. We've just got to find a better way to do it."

The Vols are clearly trying different methods.

Both Nu'Keese Richardson and David Oku had chances to field kicks, and UT seemed to be tinkering with its rotation more than usual. It's still using starters on coverage units, still confident in Lincoln at kicker and saw some positives from Cunningham.

But like the other two phases, there are underlying issues on special teams that are keeping the Vols from taking off and frustrating the locker room. With only one game left before the bye week, now they have to make sure it doesn't fracture it completely.

"I think it's just our coaches are going to do a really good job of keeping us together, as well as our leaders on this team," defensive end Chris Walker said. "We see how close we can be to being a really good team.

"We're making a lot of mistakes week-in and week-out on offense and defense and special teams, so we've just got to tighten it up and learn from our mistakes, which we're not doing right now."

There's been plenty to learn from lately, and at the moment nobody is excused from class.

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Comments » 126

tngivem6 writes:

Learn from the mistakes!!!

tngivem6 writes:

Maybe the reason the special team is beat is because the starters, which were defensive starters for the most part, were too gased to tackle..

Keep wondering why other teams have nice returns and ours just bottles up in the middle for a 20 yard return..

ncvol17 writes:

I was there. It was UGLY from beginning to near end.. the stadium looks great - the fans were there - they were noisy...how in the world did we get so bare in depth..players having to play new positions cause we have zero depth....Kiffin will build from near bottom up..the strip was hopping at midnight....oh yeah - the book store carries much more quality mdse than it has in the past..well done bookstore

OLROCKYTOP writes:

If Tennessee even had a mediocre quarterback, they would be 4-1. Crompton is the first mistake that needs corrected. If you take care of that, then everything else should fall into place. He is the worst quarterback to ever come thru Knoxville.

Madkels writes:

I sat in Y9 and noticed that Crompton would keep his left foot back in his stance under center and the play would go that way. Did not have chance to see if right was the same. Anyone notice this? If so, did the Auburn D notice too?

Madkels writes:

what?

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to sicemsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BornGator writes:

Hee, hee, hee.....

lomas98 writes:

in response to sicemsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Right, just fire every coach after he is not successful after one year. That way we can pay 4 or even 5 coaches at one time. You were probably wanting Fulmer fired every season after 98 for not winning the nc. The simplest response from a fan for losing a game is "fire the coach".

tnlizard writes:

in response to sicemsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I am open to we made a mistake. We would be unfair an idiotic to think that seriously after 5 games in the first season as a college head coach.

tnlizard writes:

in response to sicemsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Based on your decision making abilities you probably do not have one.

tnlizard writes:

in response to BornGator:

Hee, hee, hee.....

Ain't this fun for ya'll

Tamvol writes:

in response to sicemsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Saban was 6-6 his first year and lost the last 4 games with a loss to UL Monroe. Pull your undies back off of your head. Auburn was a projected top 10 last year. They had some talent coming back. The bottom line is the cupboard is bare. Why don't all of you who are calling for the firings, go hunting or something. There you can get your firing in!

KingMikey writes:

What did you expect this year? A SEC Championship? A BCS Bowl?

I think Lane is going to turn things around. The Vols have been going down hill for years. I don't expect to see it this year or even 2010. It's going to take time to get back on top of Good Ole Rocky Top. GO VOLS!!!

OrangeronFan writes:

I'm not sure what is wrong with everyone on these boards and at volnation...

If I'm not mistaken, we would have started 3 walk ons if Nick wasn't hurt. And even though we have lost some games, our team played with more desire and intensity than I have seen in 8 years or so. We don't have a quarterback and after last night I don't think we have recievers either. It may be a rough year, but the way these guys are recruiting, we WILL be back again. Try not to kill yourselves before you get to enjoy it.

IdahoVol writes:

I have to say that was easily the most frustrating game I have watched in many years. Unfortunately it looks like we went backwards from Florida to Ohio, then backwards again from Ohio to Auburn. Let's hope this gets turned around soon.

geochemist writes:

in response to Madkels:

I sat in Y9 and noticed that Crompton would keep his left foot back in his stance under center and the play would go that way. Did not have chance to see if right was the same. Anyone notice this? If so, did the Auburn D notice too?

It's called a punch step. Right handed QBs have their left foot back, and if you check a left handed QB, you will usually notice right foot back. It is implemented to get separation from the center on drop backs. Of course, it didn't help him out of the locker room when he fell after the snap....

Tamvol writes:

in response to TennesseeBigMan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So tell me who the skilled position players that are so highly recruited that we brought in. Don't give me Crompton and his #2 rating, because it is evident he did not pan out. No WR's or QB and that is the problem that is dragging down the rest of the team.

OrangeronFan writes:

in response to TennesseeBigMan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

According to those same sources Jonathon Crompton was an all world 5 star recruit.

SLOBBER_knocker_U writes:

in response to sicemsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you hate this program so bad then quit wasting yours and everyones time on here and get the freak off our(vols fans) website!

matrosscbc writes:

in response to sicemsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You capitalizing BOZO is laughable.... please don't ever go to a game....go back to playing Halo

vol_chaz writes:

There is plenty of blame to go around, and we did in fact lose all 3 phases of this game and STILL almost won. We had our chances. I'm glad we are done we the spread option offenses for a while.

janjim2#521687 writes:

in response to TennesseeBigMan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have to agree with the cupboard is not bare. How do explain the success of Boise State and Cinc. I don't recall seeing their recruiting class ranked in the top 10. It boils down to coaching! You got to coach up the players you have. We have the highest paid coaching staff in the country! It seems that we are not getting our monies worth. Let's start by coaching up the speciality team that missed an extra point, field goal and gave up a 52 yard return late in the 4th quarter . Gentleman let's quit making excuses. Stop hating Fulmer, the quarterback and other players and man up. It is your job. Show us that you can coach and the wins will come. Go Vols!

PlaidinOrangeandWhite writes:

in response to TennesseeBigMan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Didn't we have about 8 or 10 players to leave the team in the spring? The cupboards are not empty if you like eating the crumbs.

scvols writes:

in response to OLROCKYTOP:

If Tennessee even had a mediocre quarterback, they would be 4-1. Crompton is the first mistake that needs corrected. If you take care of that, then everything else should fall into place. He is the worst quarterback to ever come thru Knoxville.

Fulmer would still be our coach if we had anything better.

Elkabong1940 writes:

It is time to give Stephens a chance. It would be impossible for him to be worse than Crompton.

bigorangebluegrass writes:

You can't bench Crompton. We play in the SEC, i.e. the toughest, hardest hitting conference there is; a conference in which your chance of injury from getting the snot knocked out of you is pretty high. If you bench Crompton and Stevens gets hurt later, there's no way you send Crompton back in...he's already a head-case. The way things are now, at least we have a backup QB if any injuries occur. Also, it was more evident than ever vs. Auburn that #8 is not the only problem: receivers gotta catch balls that hit 'em in their hands.

KFDLaw writes:

I am as frustrated as the next fan with this year's team. I think a lot of it has to do with our older players recruited by the former staff who are not up to SEC caliber. Most of our team's experienced players could play on small college teams and be heroes, but they probably are not good enough to play for Alabama and Florida. Good special teams players don't allow the other team's return men to cross the 50 yard line almost every time on punts and kick off returns. A good punt is not 25 to 35 yards. On kick offs the ball should be coming down near the end zone and not at the 20 yard line where it can be fielded on the fly for a long run. A senior quarterback should not be clueless as to where the defensive backs and his receivers are on nearly every play. The receivers should catch balls thrown to them on their numbers. It should not take five guys missing tackles before an opposing player is brought down after a long gain. The losses this year have been team efforts. In my opinion Crompton is a mediocre quarterback, but his fellow experienced team members, with the exception of Eric Berry and one or two others, are playing at the mediocre level. The freshmen we have are exciting and are making a difference right now and will make a big difference over the next few years. However, I think it is fairly obvious that until UT has a higher level of experienced players to work with we should all expect a few more disappointing games. Lane Kiffin is recruiting top drawer players and we should have a good team in a couple of years, but don't look for a lot of wins this year. For now, we will be forced to take our licks and look forward to a better future.

rshoptaw writes:

in response to sicemsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're a moron. We will play hard in the rest of our games, just as we did in our first 5. It's laughable that you have us losing to Memphis also. Our defense can keep us in the game with anyone as long as we don't turn the ball over. Kiffin is doing what he can with what he has. I personally think he has done well managing the play selections. I see amazing upside to this team, as well as next years. When it boils down to it, Kiffin is not the one out there making the plays, so anyone hating on him or his father is just downright idiotic at this point. As someone previously stated, Saban went 6-6 his first year. Let's just be the best fans we can be and support our team. Go Vols!

coachck61 writes:

The coaches can"t coach, oh I know all the talk about how good they are,but the proof is in the pudding,and this pudding is sour.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to sicemsmokey:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

that ought to bring them to their knees your not supporting them

coachck61 writes:

in response to PlaidinOrangeandWhite:

Didn't we have about 8 or 10 players to leave the team in the spring? The cupboards are not empty if you like eating the crumbs.

It dosen"t matter how good of recruits you have, without them being coached up all you have is a bunch of good high school players, sorry comming from HS to CFB is like going to the NFL from college it"s a huge step.It"s all about the coaches not the recruits and the Vols were out coached last night.

vols4ever93 writes:

in response to TennesseeBigMan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The old coach had a nack of findind talent that would never see the field. Maybe Auburn got talent and they were COACHED UP und not down.

Hate to do it but I dont think this team is that good perhaps that is why they were 5-7 last year. Thats why we hired CLK and fired CPF and we will be good again I promise.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

you actually believe a receiver not being able to catch a pass is due to bad coaching--that pretty basic

do you really think they dont teach how to tackle???

now on horrid special teams play coaching may be questioned but how does one know if its lack of coaching or just bad execution by not good enough players who dont take to learning well

it comes down to execution and coaches cant do that on the field

cdldoc#211897 writes:

This is another dispirited football team. Quarterback play is dismal and it affacts all phases of the game. Kiffin's inflexibility at QB is really hurting this team.

VOL03_NC writes:

There is a troll feeding off of you. Dont feed them they keep coming back as a poser.

bluetick writes:

Good article finally and dead on. I have faith in this coaching staff. It may take a couple of years but this team WILL be back on top again. Relax. Get a prescription for xanax. It is the only thing that keeps me in check watching the games this year. hehe. Go Vols.

cdldoc#211897 writes:

in response to vol_chaz:

There is plenty of blame to go around, and we did in fact lose all 3 phases of this game and STILL almost won. We had our chances. I'm glad we are done we the spread option offenses for a while.

What game were you watching???

timetofireclk writes:

My question is why wont the staff try another QB or try more WRs because it is apparent that the ones we are starting and using are not getting it done.

JohnnyVol writes:

Imagine that...one missed field goal (an easy one) and one missed extra point tie the game for us. Ridiculous.

vols99#639914 writes:

in response to OLROCKYTOP:

If Tennessee even had a mediocre quarterback, they would be 4-1. Crompton is the first mistake that needs corrected. If you take care of that, then everything else should fall into place. He is the worst quarterback to ever come thru Knoxville.

You are so right

Cldvols1 writes:

Ya think! Go Vols...whew!

KSargent writes:

in response to Tamvol:

So tell me who the skilled position players that are so highly recruited that we brought in. Don't give me Crompton and his #2 rating, because it is evident he did not pan out. No WR's or QB and that is the problem that is dragging down the rest of the team.

yes Crompton was one ..... tell me this ...we have Brey ...and some receivers that look great ....you willing to "promise they are great" .....with your pocket ...I doubt it .....come on .... quit blaming and accept the coaching

tdvol1989 writes:

Well, as far as the state of the program. It very irrational to even suggest Lane Kiffin is not the right man for the job. He does need to show improvement though or he will lose some of the fan base, mainly because they are weary of losing. I will say this. I do believe that he has lessons to learn and that he underestimated the state of the program. Case in point, he is running the offense his way. He is not really doing much to try to leverage what we have (that means gimmick plays). We all know what we don't have. For me, I am willing to be patient because I know that he has a plan and we will have another strong recruiting class. Kiffin is the right man for the program. He is just not a Houston Nutt motivator that is going to get the team to play over their heads this season.

As far as the talent, everyone is right. The cupboard is not that bare. However, we just do not have skill position players and the talent we did sign has not been developed. We have better talent than Boise, but we have not been consistent with our systems over the past few years.

Face it, Auburn is better than we are, but we could have won that game. Say what you will about it being a prevent defense on our last drive, but if we don't drop 4 points (4 easy points) in the kicking game in the first half, our last drive is to win the game.

Here is another positive. We were on the verge of getting blown out at 23-6. But, we did not quit. Look at those 4th down conversions.

If we win 2 out of 3 against Georgia, South Carolina, and Ole Miss (this is possible) and don't choke against Memphis, Vandy, and KY, we save the season. There is plenty to fight and play for.

TheFuj writes:

Frustrating. We seemed to be getting worse instead of better in all phases. Defense is still good, but did not get a turnover, and AU did fumble and had some throws that could have been int. Put Berry returning punts and kickoffs. Even though we need him on coverages, I think he would break a return for a score or close to a score every game.

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to BornGator:

Hee, hee, hee.....

Pretty much How I feel too when the gators lose to auburn. Lsu is going to slaughter the pond pups saturday. Now that's a game I can't wait to see...

Salpointe writes:

Patience my children, patience. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a Vols football program! It will take time.

fedupvol writes:

Same result as last year....just HORRIBLE all around! Coaches, players....both PATHETIC! Look like a High School playing in a college game..the new "mouth of the south", Coach K, should just shut up unless he and the team can back up what he says....and some of these players must be as dumb as it gets....just plain PATHETIC all around!

reddevilfever writes:

I have not ever read where Lame Kiffin takes the blame himself, he's always pointing the finger at someone else.

soccervol writes:

We have the best coaching staffs in the country right now...But they sure haven't showed us that.

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