Tag Archives: Lane Kiffin

Western loses at Tennessee, 63-7

It’s official: with a 63-7 loss at Tennessee, the Toppers just concluded their first game as a full-fledged member of the Football Bowl Subdivision. Some notable statistics from today’s game:

  • Tennessee’s senior quarterback, Jonathan Crompton, made his eighth career start and threw for more touchdowns against the Toppers (five) than he did during the entire 2008 season (four).
  • The Volunteers converted 7 of 9 third downs compared to Western’s 1 of 11.
  • Senior quarterback Brandon Smith was 8 for 13 with 44 yards for the Toppers. In comparison, Tennessee’s junior backup quarterback, Nick Stephens, completed all four of his passes for 44 yards in two fourth-quarter drives.
  • Sophomore running back Bobby Rainey provided Western’s only score, running in a touchdown with 2:41 left in the third quarter, and finished with 41 yards on eight carries.
  • With a 28-0 halftime lead, Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin told ESPN sideline reporter Cara Capuano, “We should be up by five or six touchdowns by now.” The Volunteers turned the ball over on two of their three possessions in the scoreless first quarter but reached the end zone on all four drives in the second.

Check wkuherald.com for a full game story.


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WKU-UT: Second quarter recap

  • The Tennessee offense opened things up to begin the second quarter, scoring twice before the 13-minute mark on carries from freshman Bryce Brown and a 17-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton to junior tight end Luke Stocker. The Volunteers scored two more times to finish the half with 28 unanswered points.
  • Western sophomore running back Bobby Rainey fumbled on the Toppers’ first drive of the quarter to hand the ball to Tennessee on their own 17-yard line. Rainey’s fumble is the only Western turnover thus far, and after giving it away twice in the first quarter, Tennesssee didn’t record a turnover in the second quarter.
  • The Volunteers finished the first half with 297 yards of total offense – 166 on the ground and 131 through the air compared to the Toppers’ nine yards of total offense, impaired by negative 16 yards of total rushing.
  • With an opportunity to run the clock out at the end of the first half, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin elected to burn all three of his timeouts and force the Western offense to punt. The Volunteers ended the half on their own terms, handing an off-tackle run to senior running back Montario Hardesty.
  • Tennessee’s time of possession was clocked at 17 minutes, 15 seconds to Western’s 12 minutes, 45 seconds.

  • Announced attendance for the season opener in Knoxville was 98,761.

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Notebook: Western at Tennessee

Elson endorsing “Kiffin Mania”

Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin’s off-season antics have created a buzz around Saturday’s game between the Toppers and Volunteers, and Western head coach David Elson is embracing the attention.

“There are people who may not know what Western Kentucky’s program is all about, or what level we play on,” Elson said. “So every time he brought attention to Tennessee, he brought attention to Tennessee’s first game, and it happens to be against Western Kentucky.”

Kiffin reportedly broke NCAA rules on multiple occasions, traded barbs with Florida head coach Urban Meyer through the media and raised the profile of his team’s season opener in the process.

Elson said at Monday’s media luncheon that every time the Tennessee coach’s actions drew national attention, all he could think was, “Thank you, Lane Kiffin.”

Tennessee receiving corps limited but dangerous

Tennessee has lost a number of wide receivers for the season opener (and beyond) this year due to injuries. Senior Austin Rogers, junior Denarius Moore and  junior Gerald Jones (the Vols’ leading receiver in 2008) will all be unavailable for anywhere from four weeks to the entire season, leaving senior Quintin Hancock, junior Brandon Warren and a trio of freshman at wideout.

Of those three newcomers, Western sophomore free safety Mark Santoro said the Topper defense will concentrate the most on freshman Nu’Keese Richardson, who Santoro said Tennessee will take advantage of with a variety of looks.

“They’re going to do a lot of different things with him,” Santoro said. “They’re going to put him at receiver, he’s going to be their punt returner probably, and they might line him up in the Wildcat (formation).”

Offense won’t key on Berry alone

Tennessee strong safety Eric Berry is considered one of the team’s marquee players, but junior receiver Quinterrance Cooper said the offense won’t do much to adjust to the heralded defensive back.

“We don’t have no Eric Berry package or nothing like that,” he said.

Cooper also said that the Toppers’ offense is preparing for their match-up with Tennessee in normal fashion.

“We just treat it like any other game,” Cooper said. “They’ve got Eric Berry, but he’s just one player.”

Toppers to profit off meeting at Tennessee

Regardless of the outcome at Neyland Stadium, Western will receive $700,000 for playing, according to a USA Today article by Jack Carey.

Some smaller programs agree to away contests dubbed “money games” against traditional powers, gaining increased exposure and leaving with a sizeable check. As part of its transition into the Football Bowl Subdivision, Western has traveled to play seven Southeastern Conference opponents in the past seven years, including Tennessee, and been outscored 264-42 in the first six.

-Jonathan Lintner

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WKU Weekly Media Luncheon Wrap-Up

Just got back from the WKU football weekly media luncheon. Along with head coach David Elson, senior wide receiver Jake Gaebler and junior linebacker Thomas Majors gave a few words on the Toppers’ season-opening game at Tennessee on Saturday. A few key points from today’s festivities:

  • Gaebler said the older players are preaching to the younger, less experienced players that the key to playing in the 101,011-seat Neyland Stadium (and believe me, there WILL be more people in there than that come game day) is to maintain focus and keep the motivation up.
  • Part of that motivation has been the rankings that have been more than prevalent in the media. Most publications that rank all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams have WKU at the bottom of their respective lists. “We’re using the fact that most people are overlooking us as motivation,” Gaebler said.
  • Majors made a point that the defense feels that Tennessee doesn’t do anything different than any other FBS team, but what they do, they do well. He gave the Power-I, pro-style offense that Volunteer head coach Lane Kiffin will be keen on, as an example. It’s a major prepping point for the Topper defense.
  • Elson’s biggest selling point is to the players is that they must stay within their means going into the first game. “You must stay within your system and should just try to cover what other teams might do,” Elson said.
  • Elson said he is more comfortable going into this season than in any other season before due to the fact that his roster is stacked with more talent. He attributed that to the rise to the FBS and to the name of WKU football getting out there more.
  • He also said that along with preparing for the noise of Neyland Stadium with loud music and silent cadences, Elson added that the players must train their minds for the rigors of playing in that environment.
  • Despite being out for the Saturday night scrimmage, running backs Marell Booker and Bobby Rainey will be ready to play at Tennessee on Saturday.

-David Harten

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12 in 12: Day 1 — Tennessee

Football beat writer Jonathan Lintner breaks down each of Western’s 12 opponents over the next 12 days.

Team: Tennessee
Play Western: Sept. 5, at Tennessee
‘08 Record: 5-7
Coach: Lane Kiffin
Returning starters: Seven offense, five defense

The Buzz: New Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin has come under a firestorm of controversy this past off-season. The former Oakland Raiders coach called out SEC foes Florida and Georgia on the recruiting front, accusing Gators coach Urban Meyer of recruiting violations in the process.

Kiffin himself violated NCAA rules by mentioning the Meyer situation, in which he said a player was receiving calls from the opposing coach while on an official visit to Tennessee. Kiffin violated another NCAA rule by referring Vol recruit Bryce Brown as a “great player” on local radio. The university plans to self-report that recruiting violation.

Fresh off a season full of disappointment, Kiffin looks to get the Volunteers in the news for something positive — winning — rather than the criticism that’s been shot his direction since arriving on campus.

Outlook: For everything Tennessee has lost in its wide receiving corps with Gerald Jones, Denarius Moore and Austin Rogers injured over the summer, they hope to make up for with a veteran offensive line and a quarterback that’s been there, done that once before.

Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee’s senior under center, saw action in all but four games in 2008. While Volunteer fans don’t question his talent, Crompton has been known to make poor decisions — just as he did in an 8-for-23 passing effort in last season’s 14-12 loss to Auburn.

Former coach Phillip Fulmer benched Crompton for the next four games in favor of backup Nick Stephens. Now under the reign of Kiffin, the quarterback battle has extended to 2009. Both signal callers are receiving snaps in spring training with Crompton expected to get the nod in against Western in Knoxville on Sept. 5.

Even better news for Crompton is that Jones is currently participating in practices, wearing a cast on his injured arm. That’s bad news for Western, who lost starting free safety Travis Watters after last season along with four other starters and now expects to give playing time to a number of second-year players in the secondary. Watters led the Toppers with 73 tackles in 2008.

How Western can win: If Western expects to make a competitive second half in Knoxville a reality, they’ll rely heavily on their offensive backfield to make it happen. Seniors Tyrell Hayden and Marell Booker head up the Topper rushing attack, with Bobby Rainey not far behind. Maximizing on the Vols’ loss of All-SEC defensive end Robert Ayers as well as maintaining possession and composure in a hostile environment will be of great importance.

The Toppers look to get out of Big Orange Country with a moral victory — a competent ground game to keep the abilities of preseason All-American safety Eric Berry at bay and a closer-than-expected final score.

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2009 football schedule released

Take a deep breath. The anticipation is over, and Western released its 2009 football schedule.

As anticipated, the Toppers open up on Sept. 5 against Tennessee. They will also open the Lane Kiffin era in Knoxville. It’s an era that has already had an interesting start. Imagine how much more interesting it would be if the Toppers ended their nine-game losing streak extending from a season ago and upset the Vols.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The following weekend, on Sept. 12, Western hosts South Florida, the first BCS-conference opponent to come to Smith Stadium.

September 19: Central Arkansas (Finally, the losing streak ends. Also if you want some trivial information about Central Arkansas, their men’s teams are the Bears, while their women’s teams are the Sugar Bears.)

September 26: at Navy

October 3: Open

October 10: Florida International

October 17: Louisiana-Lafayette

October 24: at Middle Tennessee

October 31: at North Texas (Halloween in Denton, anyone?)

November 7: Troy

November 14: Louisiana-Monroe

November 21: Open

November 28: at Florida Atlantic

December 3: Arkansas State (Plenty of good seats still remain)

The December 3rd game will be played on a Thursday because Houchens Stadium will be used the following Friday and Saturday for the high school championship games.  That game has a possibility of airing on TV as well. The homecoming date has yet to be determined.  Game times will also be determined later.

-Mike Stunson and Andrew Robinson

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