Kiffin: One game at a time, Ole Miss up next

Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee Volunteers took to the practice field Sunday night to begin another week of preparation. Go "Inside" to get exclusive practice interviews and information on the Tennessee football team as they enter the home stretch of the 2009 season. If you're not a premium member of InsideTennessee.com you're missing out.

Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee Volunteers returned to the practice field Sunday night in preparation for what is thought to be their toughest test from here on out - the Ole Miss Rebels.

The Vols will be at almost full strength, as they head into the home stretch of their regular season schedule.

"I think for the most part we came through very healthy. Pretty much everybody was out here moving around, there were some guys a little bit banged up, but everyone was able to practice," said Kiffin after the conclusion of practice.

Although Daniel Lincoln was not needed to kick field goals during the contest against the Memphis Tigers, Kiffin said he would have been available.

"To a certain distance. We kind of knew what it was, but we would have to have had a feel for it," said Kiffin. "And I was going to go for it in most situations anyway, but Chad (Cunningham) would have kicked longer field goals."

Injuries have shredded the Vols middle linebacker position, which forced freshman Herman Lathers to step into the role Saturday evening. Kiffin was pleased with Lathers' performance in his first start for the orange and white.

"Herman played really well. He made some really good plays," said Kiffin. "He missed a couple of tackles, but was aligned really well. Boy, he is really fast, but we knew that from the preseason."

Kiffin also discussed the role that an early lead played into personnel decisions in the second half of Saturday night's game.

"We probably took guys out a little bit earlier than we normally would, just because of the stretch run coming up and the game being in hand so early," said Kiffin.

Despite personnel changes, Kiffin wasn't ready to make excuses for a poor effort in the fourth quarter. The Vols were outscored in the fourth quarter for the first time in the 2009 season.

"I am still down about the way we finished," said Kiffin. "No matter who is in there we never want to play the way we did in the fourth quarter."

Freshman wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson was all smiles Sunday evening after a career-best performance Saturday night.

Richardson finished with three catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. This performance came after much speculation was made of Richardson's frustration with offensive involvement and the possibility of a suspension.

"I wouldn't say frustration. It was just some problems I was going through. I had a lot on my mind," said Richardson. "I just wanted to take some time off and have a clean head."

Richardson cited homesickness and personal issues for missing practice last Sunday evening, but was quick to compliment Lane Kiffin's help with his off-the-field issues.

"It just lets you know that he is always going to be there for us no matter what we are going through. For a player always know a coach is going to have his side, that is something good," said Richardson.

Kiffin and running back Tauren Poole were seen in a verbal altercation during Saturday's contest, which Kiffin addressed Sunday night.

"There was an issue on the sidelines and I sent him into the locker room. I didn't like the way that he handled an issue. I met with him today and we are moving on," said Kiffin. "He has worked extremely hard in practice. I don't expect kids to agree with our decisions on playing time. I expect them to think they are the best guy at their position, but they need to respect those decisions."

Jonathan Crompton turned in a Tennessee Volunteer best half of football. Crompton surpassed Tennessee great Peyton Manning for the most passing yards in a single half with 305 yards passing and four touchdowns. Kiffin says confidence is the reason Crompton is flourishing in the Tennessee offense.

"He has great confidence right now," said Kiffin. "He really only missed one throw in the game. Other than that he really almost played perfect."

Kiffin, Crompton and the rest of the Tennessee Volunteers will return to the practice field Tuesday afternoon.


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