D rips offense, so does Kiffin

Tennessee's defensive players returned to the practice field Tuesday following a 10-day spring break. Tennessee's offensive players, apparently, are still vacationing.

For most of a 3-hour, 15-minute workout at Haslam Field, head coach Lane Kiffin found the defensive performance enthralling and the offensive performance appalling.

"Coming back after the spring break, I didn't think our execution was very good at all on offense," the head man said. "I was very pleased with the defense. I thought they set the tone for the practice, especially the live portion early, which was full tackling. I thought they really came out ready to play and executed a bunch of new stuff really well.

"The offense fell behind today. We went to the red zone, and production was not very good down there, so we'll get back to work in the morning and find a way to get better on offense. Hopefully, our defense continues to get better and keeps playing at the level it played today."

After a 10-day layoff Kiffin thought both sides might show a little rust. He got a lot more rust than he expected on offense.

"If you would expect anything, it would be that they (offense and defense) would come back and not be very good," he said. "But one side (defense) was great. One side brought it today.

"That coaching staff and those players out-played and out-coached the other side of the ball.... I don't think it had anything to do with the week off. I just thought (the defense) prepared better and practiced better today."

Just as he refused to blame the lackluster offensive effort on the 10-day layoff, the head man refused to blame it on the introduction of some new plays.

"You want to see them come out and execute when you put a lot of plays in, but this showed us we weren't ready for it yet," he said. "We've got to do a better job of coaching them."

Kiffin made no attempt to mask his disappointment with the offensive execution, which included dropped passes by receivers.

"Our timing (was off)," he said. "We had a lot of new routes in the red zone thrown at 'em but we want them to come out and execute, no matter how many plays we put in. We'll go back and look at the tape. They say it's never as good as it seems, never as bad as it seems.

"Hopefully, that'll be the case because I thought it was pretty bad today."


After missing the three pre-spring break workouts due to a fractured right wrist, rising junior quarterback Nick Stephens participated on a limited basis Tuesday.

"He was throwing it around a little bit today," Kiffin said. "Hopefully, by Saturday he'll be ready to go."

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