Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee Volunteers continued their preparation for Saturday's matchup Wednesday afternoon.
The offense seemed to be lagging a bit while the defense was flourishing Wednesday afternoon, energized by Chris Walker, who returned to full speed after being hampered by a back injury.
"I thought practice was OK today. I thought the defense kind of got after the offense in the ones versus ones drills today. That was good to see from one standpoint, especially in the pass rush," said Kiffin.
Kiffin continues to be impressed with the defensive pass rush, and Wednesday's practice was no exception.
"Chris Walker was back out here today, full speed, and had some great rushes," said Kiffin. "Our front four rushed really well today, so hopefully that will carry over into the game."
Kiffin still denied any type of suspension or punishment to wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson, although Richardson was often isolated and seen jogging laps during the early part of Wednesday's practice.
"Nu'Keese is fine. We put a couple of plays in for him today," said Kiffin.
Richardson missed Sunday afternoon's practice following the Vols win over South Carolina.
While Kiffin didn't have any complaints regarding officiating during the South Carolina matchup he did comment on Urban Meyer's public criticism of SEC officials.
"Urban Meyer criticized the officials. That will be interesting. We'll see," said Kiffin after being asked about Meyer's comments regarding a late hit on quarterback Tim Tebow.
"I did see the replay. It was pretty bad, but we are worried about our team. We have a lot of work to do. And he will discipline his team or not depending on how he feels," said Kiffin.
While Kiffin may be focused on his team he is still unwilling to give any type of goal for the remainder of the season. That being said, Kiffin still understands the importance of the Vols securing a bowl game.
"The bowl game is always big as far as extra practices and developing your young guys," said Kiffin.
Montario Hardesty couldn't seem to avoid questions about a 1,000-yard season, a milestone that the tailback is quickly approaching.
"It would be a real big accomplishment for me. I would have to thank my O-line, but it would definitely be a real big accomplishment," said Hardesty.
Kiffin spoke highly of Hardesty's work ethic despite battling nagging injuries throughout 2009.
"He is extremely banged up, but he is still in there running hard and attacking people. That is a great message for our young players," said Kiffin.
Hardesty wasn't limited in practice Wednesday afternoon, but he was wearing a soft shoulder brace.
Other injuries were limited: Defensive lineman Gerald Williams did not practice after being seen in a walking boot Tuesday afternoon, but Marlon Walls did return after being sidelined earlier in the week.
"Marlon Walls practiced today, which was a surprise, because he was in a boot yesterday. That was great to see," said Kiffin.
The Vols will continue their preparations for the Memphis Tigers Thursday, followed by a Friday afternoon walk-through.