Posted: 9:39 am Monday, September 21st, 2009
By Post Staff
Read any account of Saturday’s game between Florida and Tennessee, and there is one common theme: Urban Meyer and the Gators may have won the game, but Lane Kiffin and the Volunteers are winning the war after their better-than-expected performance in Florida’s 23-13 win at The Swamp.
But did Kiffin even try to win the game? Or was his plan from the opening kickoff to simply concede defeat, keep the margin of victory close and claim a moral victory in the press?
Meyer, sick of the expectations and “silliness” surrounding his program right now, said on Sunday that he suspects it was the latter.
“When I saw them start handing the ball off, you didn’t feel like they were going after the win,” he said. “I remember looking out there, there’s 10 minutes left in the game, there’s no no-huddle, they’re down by 23-6, and no urgency.”
Looking at the play-by-play, Meyer may have a point.
Early in the third quarter, Tennessee trailed just 16-6 and had first-and-25 at the 25. Instead of trying to throw down field with his shaky quarterback, Jonathan Crompton, Kiffin accepted defeat on that possession and gladly punted away. Kiffin called three straight runs up the middle, including a run over right guard on third-and-20 that was stuffed for no gain.
Trailing 23-6 early in the fourth quarter, Kiffin’s first three playcalls were a sweep right and two screen passes that kept the clock running. Trailing 23-13 with 6 miutes left, Kiffin opened the series with two straight running plays.
Like Meyer said, there was no no-huddle, no shotgun formations, no four-receiver sets. Kiffin had no problem bleeding the clock from 6 minutes to 2 minutes, even with the game in reach at 23-13.
Later Sunday, Meyer reiterated his dismay with Tennessee’s ambivalent offense with Pete Thamel of the New York Times.
“It was unbelievable,” Meyer told Thamel. “They were taking their time snapping the ball when they could go win the game. There was no two-minute drill.”
Meyer, meanwhile, said he could care less about the point spread or the expectations, and was simply happy to walk out of Saturday’s game with a hard-fought win against an SEC East rival.
“We’re not trying to impress the pollsters, we’re trying to win the game,” Meyer said.