Kiffin wastes no time in anguishing over late call

Game recap: Tennessee 10, Alabama 12

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Lane Kiffin refused to question his players Saturday after a heartbreaking, last-second loss to Alabama. Instead, he'll question himself.

"I was proud of our effort," the first-year Tennessee coach said after the 12-10 loss in Bryant-Denny Stadium. "I was proud of the way we played."

So proud, in fact, that Kiffin couldn't risk taking a potential game-winning field goal away from his players.

After his much-maligned special teams recovered an onside kick and his oft-criticized offense had driven to the Alabama 28, Kiffin decided against trying to continue the drive.

With 48 seconds left, Kiffin called a draw play on second down, then milked the clock to 4 seconds to allow kicker Daniel Lincoln a chance to win the game.

"I'll go back over that a million times," Kiffin said. "I'm already killing myself for it. You'd like to think you can kick a field goal to win the game."

Yet the Vols couldn't. The 44-yard field goal was blocked and the clock expired. Kiffin's reasoning for not attempting to continue the drive for an easier field-goal attempt was fear of losing what the Vols had fought so hard for.

Kiffin said the Vols had surpassed the predetermined necessary distance to attempt a field goal by five yards. Kiffin said he based that distance on kicker Daniel Lincoln's success rate in previous weeks and pre-game warm-ups.

"You risk turning the ball over right there or you risk a penalty," Kiffin said of calling another play. "All of the sudden you get a penalty and you knock yourself out (of field-goal range). I didn't want to do that to our guys. I didn't want to take it out of their hands."

That was just one potential scoring drive that was undone by a mistake. The Vols had 13- and 12-play drives in the second half that resulted in a punt and a missed field goal, respectively.

Pass protection and penalties were issues at critical times. The Vols were called for eight penalties for 68 yards.

"Very shocked in the penalties today," Kiffin said.

The late-drive mistakes overshadowed an offense that seemed to find a groove at times against the nation's top-ranked defense.

The Vols gained 341 yards. Alabama only allowed 226.6 yards per game this season coming into Saturday's game.

Kiffin said he was pleased with quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who was 21-of-36 for 265 yards.

"For the No. 1 defense in the nation, I think we moved the ball well on them," Crompton said. "But obviously it's not enough if we don't come out with the 'W'."

Crompton's one glaring mistake was costly. The senior threw an interception deep in Alabama territory that resulted in a 49-yard Crimson Tide drive for a field goal.

"Other than that I thought he played well," Kiffin said. "He managed the game well. He's getting better . . . I thought Jonathan played extremely well."

UT's entire offense showed improvement throughout the game, yet only managed one touchdown and four field-goal attempts - two of which were blocked and another missed - despite eight trips into 'Bama territory.

"I thought guys were playing really hard," Kiffin said. "The two backs (Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown) were running extremely hard. We had some momentum going.

"Guys were making plays and we didn't score when we got down there. When you're playing the No. 1 team in the country, you've got to get a touchdown and you sure can't get your field goals blocked."

Kiffin praised his players effort in Saturday's loss, but cited a need to close the talent gap on 'Bama, which has been rated the top recruiting school in the nation the last two years.

"We've got to hit the road recruiting," Kiffin said flatly.

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Comments » 144

one4black writes:

I would question you too ... but you know what ... if you had of ran another play or two ... and there was a penalty (which happens to us) or turnover, then I would have been cussing too. So I say this is all part of the game.

one4black writes:

But I admit, I went from thinking a 9 point lose was OK, to a 2 point lose was great, to WOW - we could actually win. And I really did think he would make it, as I have seen many kickers suck all game but then hit the one that counts. In any case, those players have their all for Tennessee today. Even the CLK haters must note that while I agree moral victories cannot exist at Tennessee, compare this year's loses to last year ... 4 losses totaling 20 points (and that includes 2 #1 teams). Hell, we lost by that a few times in a single game last year (not hating on Fulmer - just saying we are headed it right direction).

one4black writes:

Grammar correction to previous post:
"those players GAVE their all for Tennessee today"
and
"compare this year's losses"

Brillovol writes:

Well, I'll take that explanation. The way the penalties and sacks were going, I definitely understand it. Remember, we were taken out of range in the 1st quarter because of timely blitzes.

"So you're sayin' there's a chance..."

We had it, and I am proud of our effort!

thaclaw writes:

no second guessing, kiffin.... hindsite is 2020...i was wondering all night why you didnt run 2 more plays and now i know....i agree with why you didnt do it now..hell we had 6 penalties in the red zone already ealier in the game....

nice game kiff and team. we might need to close a gap, and by my thoughts.... we have and R

spydersoldier writes:

I thought he could have taken another shot down the middle of the field. It was open and Crompton was on a roll. Kiffin has to have a feel that his QB can get another pass in 10-15 yards in 40 seconds or just throw it away. But we should be able to win the game with a field goal so I am not mad. I just hope that when Kiffin gets his recruits in that we see the results and he actually takes the chances down the field that obviously he doesnt see in this team. His play calling overall is getting better everygame so I have a positive outlook for the future of the program. GO VOLS!!!!

Brillovol writes:

Also, we've got a kicker coming in for next year. Bright future ahead!

calvolfromkingsport writes:

Way to go CLK! You are a good coach who has sold the program to all the team members. The difference of spirit happened after the AU game. Feel the footsteps, SEC.

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

Our kickers have to be able to make kicks when in field goal range. Don't beat yourself up over that one coach. Soon we will be back to winning these games with the talent it takes to do it. Way to go today!!! I am proud of this team.

sidwalkvol writes:

in response to spydersoldier:

I thought he could have taken another shot down the middle of the field. It was open and Crompton was on a roll. Kiffin has to have a feel that his QB can get another pass in 10-15 yards in 40 seconds or just throw it away. But we should be able to win the game with a field goal so I am not mad. I just hope that when Kiffin gets his recruits in that we see the results and he actually takes the chances down the field that obviously he doesnt see in this team. His play calling overall is getting better everygame so I have a positive outlook for the future of the program. GO VOLS!!!!

I think rather that his players are getting better so he can make different calls... early on he really was limited as to what he could do because of what they could or couldn't do. Now he seems confident in his players, just not in the officials. Yeah, we had some motion problems but there seemed a bit of disparity in the calls. Not blaming, just saying.

SouthALVol writes:

Play to win. Going for it on fourth down in our own territory. Crompton made plays. Backs got yards when it was needed. Defense played lights out. UT played to win. Crushing defeat for sure but we've got a good team. Do y'all realize that? We are a lot better than I thought we'd be. We could (and should) win the rest of our games based on the play in these last couple of games. Just need to get that damn kick higher. It's been low all year.

mytrifecta writes:

We not only played with the #1 team in the country, we went to their house and beat them in every facet of the game...except the one that mattered. This was an exceptional effort and shows you how far this team has came since UCLA. And, another great performance by Crompton...very gutsy kid. I don't see us losing the rest of the year.

VolsRaysBucs writes:

I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about Kiff's decision to play it close to the vest late. We had done everything we needed to do in order to be in position to win it. If you would have told me this morning when I woke up the difference in the two programs would be they have an NFL kicker and we don't, I'd have taken it in a heartbeat. All 3 kicks rest solely in Lincoln's shoulders. The one before the half HAS to be long enough from an SEC kicker and the two blocks were waist high at best.

Welcome to Knoxville Mr. Palardy.

volfanwestcoast writes:

Coach Kiffin made exactly the right call. You don't gamble on an interception of penatly. We had em on the ropes.. and will pound them next year!

JACK8254 writes:

KIFFIN DID THE RIGHT THING. HE gave us the best chance to win. Another play could be lost yardage or a fumble or int. I have noproblem with the decision. However, how many games are we going to lose this year because of poor special teams play? But , to be honest we played hard the entire game and we were rewarded with a legit chance to win. We just couldnt execute the play . If we swap our guy for Tiffin- we win the game.

Razzle writes:

Coach K. made the logical and correct call. Should have been able to kick the 44 yarder. I was proud of the way the team played today.

RoadTrip writes:

Encouraging day - we won on the field but lost on the scoreboard. CLK is going through on-the-job-training SEC style. He is sharp and will figure it all out soon. He is right to second guess himself - you need to look back at failures to learn from them and not repeat them.

Lessons: Keep things at a fast pace and run the no-huddle more often. Go for the jugular on every play when you have a chance to win or put a game away. Never trust a kicker to win a game for you unless it is your only choice. Never trust your current kick coverage team to cover a kick well - ever. They stink.

RockinTop writes:

Great game!....and I thought we did well......recruits are you watching? Smokey is on the prowl....Our future looks very bright!

Go Big Orange!

DragonSlayer123 writes:

This game is what Tennessee football is about...hard fought, well-played, never-say-die, give it your all for four quarters of tough football. This is what I have been wanting to see from our team for years. There is just no quit in these guys.

I will be very surprised if we lose another game the rest of the season. This is Saban's 3rd year, and Kiffin took it to him. I am proud of this coaching staff and the team...it is truly great to be a Tennessee Vol.

Cant wait to welcome the Gators and the Tide to Neyland stadium next year.

Go Vols!

kjvols writes:

Proud to be a VOL and glad to see Crompton improving,
Has anyone beside myself seen something different this year called "Player Development"

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

PROUD OF VOLS

VolsRaysBucs writes:

in response to MVuniv:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you hourly, or do you get paid per ignorant post?

Brillovol writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You just said "bafoonery."

Very funny and true!

givehim6 writes:

Well chalk another one up to the special teams. offence played very well considering we were playing one of the best defences. Monty had a good game plan, {where was the 38 points predicted?} Great games guys.

west_tn_volfan writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That is my fear as well. This is going to be a tough loss to bounce back from. We should beat SC but we very well could come out flat.

DennisVols writes:

The Bottom Line is we lost.
Now that I have that off my chest let’s look at the bigger picture. How many of you reading this post would have given UT a chance in this game under Fulmer instead of Kiffin with everything else the same?
I said at the start of the year Kiffin had several things that needed to be accomplished.
1) Rebuild Confidence: Following last year’s performance this was the most crucial and probably the biggest task facing this coaching staff.
2) Competitive: Returning UT to the point that other teams respected them and knew that UT could and would compete in every game. This has been accomplished. There has not been a game this season in which UT has not been competitive. You can bet that Saban and Meyer both know it is different now at UT.
3) Restocking the Talent: A top 10 recruiting class in the first 2 months and now building a top 5 class this year.
4) Discipline: Since the Kiffin hire no arrests, biggest improvement in GPA and until this game leading the conference in fewest penalty yardages.
5) Conditioning: Even with the lack of depth UT was hit of hit as strong as any of their opponents this year at the end of the game. One can only imagine how they will look once this team gets restocked along the lines and other key positions.
6) Develop a QB: We all questioned what could Kiffin do with our QB situation. As rough as Crompton looked earlier this year, along with the receivers you have to admit the improvements are major at this point. Looking at his stats against the #1 defense tells me GA was not a fluke.
7) Winning: At 3-4 some will want to complain other will be able to look at the big picture and see the positive changes already taken place this year. UT will go to a bowl game this year. If you expected a SEC title you are living in the clouds. This is not just a rebuilding year; it is a year of transition. Transition from good is ok to good is not good enough. It is going to take some time to become a championship team after a decade of being just satisfied. Transitioning from old ideas to the new ones has already started to take hold. Today this team never quit. Yes they lost, but they never quit. I was tired of seeing what appeared to be a team that quit all too often in big games. We must have patience as much as each close loss hurt’s this year the future is looking bright.
The coaching staff has put this team in a position to win. Something that was not true all of last year. Of the 7 areas listed above all will be met by the end of the season. I felt proud of this team even following the losses to UF and Bama because of the competitive way they played, their heart and energy. I could not honestly say that for a couple of years.
Keeping it Real
Go Vols!!!

VolsFan1981 writes:

I, too, would have liked to see Kiffin take a chance or two downfield. I, also, understand his thinking. I'm sure he had to think that Lincoln would not miss third field goal.

Other than the last minute of the game, I thought he did a great job of managing the offense. Crompton played extremely well and Gerald Jones played like an all-conference receiver.

All in all, the only difference between the number one team in the country and Tennessee is a kicker and bigger offensive linemen. The game was heartbreaking to watch, but Kiffin has this team on the right track and it won't be long until Tennessee is beating the best teams in the country again.

jsm67vol writes:

This team took another big step forward today. They stood toe to toe with the most physical team I have seen this season and out-performed them in ever facet of the game except special teams. I feel no sense of a moral victory but there are a lot of positives to take out of this game for the Vols. If they continue to improve every week, there is a very good chance to run the table to finish the season and get a good bowl bid. I thought we would need a little luck to win today, I guess recovering the onside was all the luck that could fall the Vols way in this one. Very proud to be a Vol!

mytrifecta writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I just don't see that happening. Tonight was no fluke. We went to Alabama and pimped slapped them. Unfortunately the only place we didn't win was the score. This team knows they're on the brink and they have a lot to prove. We will beat SC and win out including the bowl game. Show me a better 3-4 team.

TSNVol writes:

What are the odds...that a Tennessee kicker would miss three field goals, having two blocked? Not very high I'd say. We're gaining ground on the top dogs. Remember the Auburn game? We missed a field goal and had an extra point blocked. Crompton threw a TD to end that game. If we've got the FG and extra point, we are kicking a extra point to win the game. So looking at these two games, that basically would have changed our position in the SEC, Tennessee needs to take a BIG look at the field goal success. I mean take a BIG LOOK and do something. I don't blame Daniel soley on the loss. Its a team sport and penalties put us in a bad spot.

All I can say is I'm sad for the guys. Damm they outplayed the Tide and we all know that they are questioning whether they (Alabama) can take it all the way. Crompton was 21 of 36 for 265 yards and Moore and Stockard were fantastic. Hardesty and Brown played tough. THE FUTURE is BRIGHT and we Vol fans have alot of great things to look foward to. GO VOLS!!!!

running_dog writes:

Tough loss, no doubt, but you have to be excited about where we are heading. Two ROAD losses against TWO #1 teams...by a combined 12 points... Orange hurricane is brewing...You can't help but be excited. Crompton had a great game!

kabulvol writes:

in response to MVuniv:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Phil, I thought you had a job at CBS on Saturdays this year?

6MillionDollarPumpkin writes:

in response to MVuniv:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

MVuniv I cant begin to tell you how stupid you really are. You are an idiot, I am for certain that no one likes you. You are probably sitting at home in your tighty whities watching SNL and listening to some Elton John music. Go on another site and pay homage to Suburban Cryer or Nick Satan. What a loser you are. Leave this sight and go S__k it!!! No one likes you because you are stupid!!!!!

beatlecakes writes:

A game like this played with the attitude, drive, effort and passion as our Vols did today will definitely fill stands, intrique recruits and make future games a reason to watch. Crompton was an SEC quarterback and Berry came to play. I was proud of our team and know Lincoln feels worse than any of us...

Brillovol writes:

in response to TSNVol:

What are the odds...that a Tennessee kicker would miss three field goals, having two blocked? Not very high I'd say. We're gaining ground on the top dogs. Remember the Auburn game? We missed a field goal and had an extra point blocked. Crompton threw a TD to end that game. If we've got the FG and extra point, we are kicking a extra point to win the game. So looking at these two games, that basically would have changed our position in the SEC, Tennessee needs to take a BIG look at the field goal success. I mean take a BIG LOOK and do something. I don't blame Daniel soley on the loss. Its a team sport and penalties put us in a bad spot.

All I can say is I'm sad for the guys. Damm they outplayed the Tide and we all know that they are questioning whether they (Alabama) can take it all the way. Crompton was 21 of 36 for 265 yards and Moore and Stockard were fantastic. Hardesty and Brown played tough. THE FUTURE is BRIGHT and we Vol fans have alot of great things to look foward to. GO VOLS!!!!

Agree. How can I feel so excited and disappointed all at the same time?

I hate this feeling!

windy writes:

in response to 6MillionDollarPumpkin:

MVuniv I cant begin to tell you how stupid you really are. You are an idiot, I am for certain that no one likes you. You are probably sitting at home in your tighty whities watching SNL and listening to some Elton John music. Go on another site and pay homage to Suburban Cryer or Nick Satan. What a loser you are. Leave this sight and go S__k it!!! No one likes you because you are stupid!!!!!

You know 6 Million Man, if we all would quit responding to this idiot, then maybe he would just leave. The only reason he is on here is just to get us mad. Ignore him

sigmundoooz#264365 writes:

Okay, here is my post Alabama season assessment. When Lane Kiffin was hired I had my doubts. When Monte was rumored to be coming with him, I felt a little bit better. When Crompton struggled through the first five games, I had my questions about Lane. After watching this Tennessee team play with as much heart, enthusiasm and confidence as I can ever remember seeing in any Tennessee football team, I AM SOLD ON LANE KIFFIN. As a native Knoxvillian and former student and staff member, I don't know if I have ever been more encouraged by what I have seen by from Tennessee team and coaching staff. That includes the team that won the National Championship in 1998. Coach Lane Kiffin has earned my respect and full support. I am done questioning his decisions on ANYTHING. Go Vols, Go Coach Kiffin, Go Coach Pearl and Go Coach Raleigh.

sigmundoooz#264365 writes:

in response to zunit21:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Since you obviously have been following Lane Kiffin's football team, the question has to be asked. Who is the greater fool, the fool or the fool that follows?

VOLinNYC writes:

I like Kiffin and the direction that the program is heading, but I disagree with his call to run down the clock. We had momentum. Bama's defense was on it's heels. We have a hurt kicker. All signs pointed to "try to keep marching down the field!!" The penalties reason is not good enough for me. The turnover reason is a little better but not completely sold. To avoid those, you would just have to call smart and quick plays that take away those opportunities to happen. Trust the team! I was appalled at the decision, but I'm glad he's going over it in his mind and maybe second guessing himself. The staff can learn from this and move on.

Other than that, we played a great overall game. Something that doesn't come up too often is that our return game is very under appreciated. It seemed like we would always bring it back to around the 30-35 yard area. I'm hopeful we can go undefeated the rest of the season (@Ole Miss maybe being the most difficult game remaining)

Razzle writes:

in response to MVuniv:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your about as sharp as bowling ball aren't you?

Bama1 writes:

Once again showing why the SEC is the best football conference in the country. Anyone can win at any time. Never a fan of anything wearing orange but good game Vols. We'll see you next year and do it all over again.

chrisw2967 writes:

This team is alot closer than most people think or will give credit for.yes ,special teams such and yes I am talking about Lincoln.We have played #1 fla and #1 bama and they both had more talent than we do but they dont have better coaches and this team is only getting better.
The talent is coming and in a short period of time Tn will rise back to the top.The talent level will even itself out and like Herbstreet said Tn is going to be a force.
All I know we dont have the worst QB in the SEC, that belongs to bama.Crompton is now doing a fine job,just a little too late.Tn finishes 8-4 book it.

chrisw2967 writes:

I meant to say special teams sucks

we3vols#281863 writes:

in response to MVuniv:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It is better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. Go Vols!

tuscavol writes:

I was at home today preparing to watch the game on tv when a call came on my cell. One of my Bama fan friends asked if I would like to go to the game; they had an extra ticket. I made it to the stadiuim in 25 minutes. I sat on the fifty yard line smack dab in the middle of crimson clad fans wearing my orange and white proudly. I listened to our team get booed and yet I cheered, alone, in front of the Alabama faithful. At the end of the game, almost every Bama fan in our section congratulated ME. They knew they had barley gotten away with this win. Say what you like about the coaching and the players, but I have never been more proud of our team than I was today. One of the Bama fans tapped me on the shoulder while we were walking out and said to me "You guys are in good hands". There were mistakes but even Bama fans can see the writing on the wall. Tennessee football is headed in the right direction. It didn't get screwed up over night and it wont get fixed over night either. Go Vols!!!!!

CincyVol15 writes:

Great game plan by Kiffin & Co and great play by Crompton. Not too mention, the defense kept the AP Poll #1 team to ZERO touchdowns! Lots to build on. GO VOLS!

colt writes:

SC is now the game of the year for Tenn. If coach Kiffin can get the players back up and beat SC, we win out and go to a bowl. This will not be easy. Again, beating SC is key. If coach can pull this off, considering where this team started, he should be SEC coach of the year. I said "Should Be".

Voluvr writes:

COACH...ON EVERY KICK Lincoln is 1 to 1.5 steps slow to the ball. When the ball hits the ground, he is 1..2 steps then kick. He's got to be coming through faster.

Great Job team and coaches. THE GREAT THING is that our coaches are putting us in a position to win.

onthehill5671 writes:

It is very clear that there is a better product on the field than at any time last year. Give this staff 2 recruiting classes and the sky may be the limit. The players have bought in to Coach Kiffin and staff, its time the fans do too.

TnScooby writes:

I don't believe in "moral victories" but I was extremely proud of what CLK and staff were able to do today despite the loss.... IMO this team is progressing MUCH faster than expected...Recruiting will be huge these next few months but the coaching staff has done a tremendous job with game planning and play calling as the season has gone on....I would never have thought that we would not connect on at least 2 of 4 FG attempts but special teams can always get you beat....The defense was superb and the offense created scoring chances all day...I just HATE the fact that 12 and 13 play drives didn't put points up....I don't see anything wrong with the decision to run down the clock and try the FG at the end....CLK might be perceived as a villain elsewhere but he is developing chemistry and a REAL bond with this team and these players...And that means he is willing to give players like Daniel Lincoln a chance to redeem mistakes and make plays...It didn't work out that way today but IMO players respect the fact that he maintains faith in them no matter what the situation is....Building the program back up will be a process that requires patience from everyone in Big Orange Country but I CERTAINLY am willing to be patient as long as I continue to see the effort I witnessed today....I know it was a loss but I still think the future holds many games that will turn out differently....Bammer won the game so kudos to them but I surely did think that Coach Satan should have been a bit more complimentary towards CLK and the Vols after the game....The scoreboard is all that counts but the Vols were the better team today.....And Coach Satan knew it....

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