Below are some excerpts from Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin’s weekly press conference where he talks about Saturday’s game with Auburn. Kickoff is set for 6:45 p.m. CT from Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. The game will be carried live by ESPN…
On this week’s game with Auburn:
“It’s a big-time conference matchup for us this week. First time we have had a conference game at home. Looking at the rankings this week, I am very surprised that this opponent is not in the top 25. They are 4-0 coming into the game. They haven’t played a game that has been within 10 points. I believe they are third in total offense, third in scoring offense.
“They are extremely explosive. I think they might be second in average per completion. Two weeks ago, we played, at the time, the most explosive offense in college football, and here we go again with one of the top three. So this will be a big matchup for us.
“We obviously have a lot of injuries on defense. We are going to need a lot of people to step up and play in this game. We are going to need a big-time day from our fans. We have asked before about third down, but we are going to need it on first, second and third because they do a bunch of no-huddle and hurry-up stuff. This has a lot to do with the communication of the quarterback and the other 10 players out there. So the louder that our crowd can be, on first and second down, as well as third down, would help our defense a lot.
“On the other side of the ball, the defense is playing really well. They gave up a bunch of yards in the West Virginia game but outside of that they have really shut down everybody else. Those were a couple of big plays by some great players, (West Virginia’s) Noel Devine making some big plays.
This is a defense that is underrated as well. They are getting healthy at the right time; this is a very healthy team. They’ve got the other defensive end back last week and played some for them. They have about seven or eight defensive linemen that rotate in there that are all big-time SEC players.
“This is a very tough opponent, one that has a great offense and a defense that is playing really well.”
On having a strategy to play an opponent that is averaging 45 points per game:
“I think that is going to depend on how the game goes. We are going to have to get a feel for it as it is going. Being at home, without going into too much, there are a couple of different directions we can go. Obviously that will dictate depending on how the first quarter goes.”
On how Auburn compares to the other teams played this season:
“I think Florida is the most similar in what they do. They are different. The quarterback (Chris Todd) does not run as much as Tim (Tebow) but he is throwing the ball extremely well. I think that is why he is in the top-five in passing efficiency and why they are so explosive, because he is throwing the ball extremely well and making big plays for them. It is a wilder offense than Florida, there is so much stuff going on around.
My dad said the other night, `It’s like trying to read a book and someone’s waving their hand in front of the book.’ You are trying to look at what’s going on but you can’t really see it and you can’t really focus because there is much misdirection and so many shifting motions. Gus (Malzahn) has done an unbelievable job — look at his track record.
Look at what he did at Arkansas, look at what he did last year, they were second in total offense in the country last year. And now he is coming in here third at a different place with brand new players. He does a great job.”
On opposing Gene Chizik in the 2005 national championship game:
“The most vivid memories of that game are of two plays. Reggie (Bush) going down for about a 50-yard completion and then trying to flip the ball back, when he turns it over early in the first quarter. That was a big momentum switch. It was just a reminder that as good of a player as you can be, sometimes guys get out of whack in a big-time game and that was an example.
Reggie had never done anything like that; he tried to toss the ball back, which is something that we never do. Then for years the fourth-and-1 haunted me; we didn’t make the fourth-and-1. We ran a play that had scored earlier in the game, it had been 18-for-18 in short yardages that season, we had been a great short-yardage team, LenDale White is a great short-yardage runner and he still is in the NFL — and they stopped us.
We got beat at the tackle, he slipped and fell and they made a great play. The momentum changed from there. They went down and scored and we ran out of time on the way back. We almost came back and got a field goal to tie the game at 41-41. So those are the two big memories.”