Sunday, October 11, 2009
Kiffin turns to recruiting
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Ask Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin who the Volunteers' biggest rival is, and he won't tell you Florida or Alabama.
"Georgia, because of what we need to do recruiting, will be the biggest matchup for this staff and for our team," he said.
ESPN.com's Chris Low writes about all things SEC in his conference blog.
Kiffin and his staff hope to use momentum from a 45-19 win Saturday over their new biggest rival to land a few recruits during their bye week.
One of the first-year coach's first pledges was that he would do whatever it took to land the best prospects in the country. He delivered on that promise this season, landing a top 10 class just months after being hired.
"We'll be recruiting from tomorrow for the whole week," Kiffin said. "We'll have our maximum guys out. We'll be everywhere and we're going to find the best players in the country."
Kiffin emphasized the Georgia game to his players due to its importance in recruiting. Tennessee doesn't produce many elite prospects, and 12 current Vols hail from the bordering state.
Kiffin also promised his Vols (3-3, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) they'd never lose to the Bulldogs while he was coach.
He got off to a good start in what turned out to be his first SEC victory thanks to some help from Jonathan Crompton, who passed for a career-high 310 yards and threw for four touchdowns.
The Vols' passing game had faltered at times this season, with Crompton struggling with his accuracy and his receivers often dropping passes when he was on target.
But by halftime Saturday, Crompton had already thrown for 205 yards and three touchdowns. He finished 20-for-27.
Crompton was a perfect 4 for 4 for 67 yards on a drive late in the first half, finding Marsalis Teague on a 5-yard touchdown pass for a 21-10 lead with 2:40 left. He also connected with Gerald Jones on a 51-yard score, the Vols' longest pass of the season.
"They ran it to the exact depth, broke it off when we expected and then you get the ball to them and let them make plays," Crompton said.
Despite being Tennessee's most productive receiver returning from last season, Jones had struggled with drops and mistakes while recovering from an ankle injury and wrist surgery. He had a season-best 105 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Tennessee's defense was sound too. The Georgia offense never reached the red zone and was held to 241 yards compared with the Vols' 472.
"We were able to make plays here and there but nothing consistent," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Tennessee tried not to give up anything big to see if we could drive the field. We weren't able to put enough plays together to put it in the end zone."
The Bulldogs found other ways to put up points. Brandon Boykin scored on his second 100-yard kickoff return of the season, and Bacarri Rambo returned Crompton's interception 28 yards for a TD.
Blair Walsh kicked a 52-yard field goal, and Zach Renner blocked a punt by Chad Cunningham that sailed through the end zone for a safety.
Richt opened his career by winning four out of his first five meetings with Tennessee, but the Vols have won three of the last four. Georgia dropped to 3-3 for the first time in his tenure.