Kiffin says Auburn offense presents 'a ton of challenges'

John Moorehouse • Sep 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KNOXVILLE — Lane Kiffin won’t be installing a spread offense at Tennessee. It’s not his cup of tea; he prefers a more conventional pro-style offense.

That doesn’t keep the football coach from admiring what’s been done at Auburn through the first four games of the season.

Saturday, the Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) host a Tigers team that ranks third in the nation in both scoring (45.25 points per game) and total offense (526.25 ypg).

“They present a ton of challenges,” Kiffin said Tuesday via teleconference. “They do everything in the world. They’re all over the place.”

Though both Florida and Auburn (4-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) run a spread offense, the Tigers use more motion and shifts than the Gators.

“A good analogy was made, it’s like trying to read a book with somebody waving a hand in front of the book,” Kiffin said.

Under first-year offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, the Tigers are flourishing. The running back tandem of Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb has Auburn fifth nationally in rushing (261.3 ypg), and quarterback Chris Todd might be the most improved player in the SEC. Todd already has 1,012 yards passing, with 11 touchdowns, and he’s thrown just one interception in 106 attempts.

The Vols (2-2, 0-1) certainly could use such consistency under center. Jonathan Crompton has been intercepted eight times.

“That’s extremely disappointing,” Kiffin said. “Only one team’s thrown more interceptions than us. That’s why we’re 2-2.”

Kiffin tried to open up the playbook to give Crompton and the passing offense a jolt against Ohio.

“I did want to see how we would respond to a pretty wide-open game plan, one that we really had not had this year,” he said. “The week before (against Florida) we had one pass attempt the first quarter and I believe we ended up with 16 or something this Saturday. … I wish we would’ve played better.”

Kiffin cited too many drops by the receivers and “inaccuracy” at quarterback as reasons for the inconsistency in the pass game.

IRREPLACEABLE?: Competition is under way to replace injured middle linebacker Nick Reveiz, who tore his ACL during Saturday’s 34-23 win over Ohio.

Kiffin was asked Tuesday how the Vols would replace the intangibles Reveiz brought to the defense.

“You can’t. There’s no way. You can’t coach that,” Kiffin said, adding that “if you were to give three names on this team right now that would be the most valuable to not lose, definitely every one of our coaches would’ve put him in the top three.”

Savion Frazier, Nigel Mitchell-Thornton and Herman Lathers are the candidates to replace Reveiz, though Lathers’ status will be determined by how quickly he recovers from a concussion sustained against the Bobcats.

Reveiz, a redshirt junior, has one remaining season of eligibility.

EXTRA POINTS: On the teleconference, Kiffin said he expected offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw to remain inside at guard. Cory Sullins started against Ohio and Kiffin said the former walk-on played well enough that he’ll probably start against Auburn. … Fellow offensive guard Vladimir Richard (knee) is questionable for this week’s game. … UT was a two-point favorite over the unbeaten Tigers as of Tuesday.

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