Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee Volunteers returned to Haslam Field on Thursday night to prepare for a tough road test with the Ole Miss Rebels.
Kiffin and the Volunteer coaches seemed pleased with this week’s practices and the focus the Vols have brought to the practice field.
“Very pleased. I thought that Tuesday was OK, but I thought the last two day were really good, but we have a lot of work left to do,” said Kiffin. “This is a very hard opponent to prepare for."
The Volunteers' focus this evening came after the incident that unfolded in the early morning hours of Thursday. Freshmen Nu’Keese Richardson, Mike Edwards, and Janzen Jackson were arrested on attempted robbery charges after an incident on Cumberland Avenue. Kiffin did not get into details about the situation following Thursday’s practice, but did address the situation.
“Just as Mike Hamilton said today we are gathering all the information in and until then we really have nothing for you,” said Kiffin. “The only thing I can give you is that Janzen has been released.”
Kiffin has prided his program on the discipline that he instills in his team and his players.
“We made it 11 months and 11 days without an incident, so we will deal with this as the information comes in,” said Kiffin.
The head coach went on to say that the recent events would not affect the rest of the Volunteers football team heading into this weekend’s game.
“It's got nothing to do with what’s going on with these guys. We needed to have a good practice today to prepare for a big-time game,” said Kiffin. “I thought the guys came out today and had a really good practice. I thought they were very sharp, very focused.”
Both Jackson and Richardson had been involved in other incidents just days before the latest event. Jackson served a one-game suspension during the Memphis game while Richardson had missed a practice during preparation for the Tigers.
With the absence of Jackson in the secondary, the Volunteers will once again turn to Prentiss Wagner and Darren Myles Jr. to fill the void left at safety.
“I don’t know. I know that Prentiss has practiced really well. Darren (hip, back) was out here moving around better today, had not moved around much all week. So we will have to test him out tomorrow and on game day.”
Kiffin went on to say that no matter what happens on or off the field it will always be about the Tennessee Volunteers.
“It's always about the team. It's always about focus. Football is about adversity. Life is about adversity and so not matter what happens with our guys on the field or off the field it's about adversity. How do you deal with adversity, how do you take the next step, how do you improve, how do you learn from that?” said Kiffin Thursday evening.
The Volunteers will indeed need to keep all eyes on the Rebels as they travel to Oxford this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Central time.