Emotions running high in Tennessee
The subplots to UCLA’s game against Tennessee are already unfolding.
Ed Orgeron, the Volunteers’ assistant head coach, played the USC expatriate card, as he and Coach Lane Kiffin are former Trojans assistants.
Kiffin, meanwhile, made sure to praise UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, whom he replaced at USC.
And Tennessee safety Eric Berry was still bemoaning the game that got away at the Rose Bowl in 2008, that 27-24 UCLA victory.
Orgeron wasted little time getting started, saying on Kiffin’s Sunday television show, “You will not find anybody else in the world that wants to beat UCLA more than Ed Orgeron and Lane Kiffin, so these boys better be ready.”
Kiffin spent the last two days making sure everyone knew he didn’t make the comment.
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel’s take?
“Those guys are good coaches,” he said. “They’ve got their way to motivate their team. We are just going to show up.”
Still, the quote was prominently displayed in the UCLA locker room.
Kiffin kept controversy out of answers about his relationship with Chow.
Chow was USC’s offensive coordinator and Kiffin a Trojan assistant from 2001-04. That ended when Coach Pete Carroll either promoted Kiffin in order not to lose him or ditched Chow because he was getting too much credit after consecutive national championships, depending on the version.
But Kiffin was ready with the right answer, saying Chow was “very instrumental in my development as a coach. I got a chance to spend four years next to him. I watched him call plays. I watched him run the quarterbacks. I watched him run the offense. I am very grateful to have had that chance.”
Meanwhile, Berry, the Volunteers’ All-American safety, called the loss to UCLA last season a self-inflicted wound.
“I’m not saying we thought we were going to beat them going into the game, but we did ease up on them at the end,” Berry said. “We can’t let that happen again, with us losing focus and pretty much giving up at the end of the game.”
Which brings things back to Orgeron, who said Sunday that Tennessee players would “find out what it is to prepare for a big game. And you know what? I think our guys are going to be ready for the outcome of last year. You can hear it in the locker room. I don’t think there needs to be any extra motivation to beat the Bruins.”
Quarterback Kevin Prince had a tough assessment of his performance after watching tape of the Bruins’ 33-14 victory over San Diego State.
Prince completed 12 of 16 for 140 yards and one touchdown in the first half but labored some in the second half with two interceptions.
“I feel like I came out really, really focused, that first pass, first drive,” Prince said. “The second half, I got lackadaisical. I got really comfortable, really confident in myself. That’s fine, but you can’t lose focus at the same time.”
Courtney Viney will start at cornerback with Aaron Hester sidelined by a broken fibula in his right leg. . . . UCLA center Kai Maiava (sore back), defensive tackle Brian Price (leg) and strong safety Glenn Love (ankle) sat out practice Tuesday. Neuheisel said all would play. . . . Tennessee expects to have wide receiver Gerald Jones available for Saturday’s game.