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Vols' Kiffin shares energy with prep coaches

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. | High school football coaches got more than just a look at Monte Kiffin's famous "Tampa 2" scheme at a Tennessee clinic, they got an up-close look at how passionate the Volunteers new defensive coordinator is about coaching.

Kiffin enthusiastically treated participants to some of the coaching philosophies that he and his son, head coach Lane Kiffin, are using to re-energize the Volunteers players and staff.

"I love coaches that coach hard with energy. The players are going to feed off of you," Monte Kiffin said.

The 68-year-old defensive mastermind formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — who claims he feels more like a 48-year-old — had enough energy for all of the few hundred coaches at the clinic to feed from.

Kiffin's voice rose and fell as he talked of passion, energy, honesty and discipline, and he pumped his fist in the air as he explained some of his practice drills, shouting, "Is this good stuff, or what?"

The three-day coaching clinic features sessions with several Tennessee coaches, exhibits by sporting goods vendors, a Saturday practice with the Volunteers and a keynote speech on Saturday by Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

The defensive football fundamentals Kiffin talked about may not be entirely different from the previous staff under coach Phillip Fulmer, but his style is. His predecessor, current LSU coordinator John Chavis, is a defensive guru in his own right but coaches with a stoic demeanor.

Barry Saunders, a 33-year assistant coach at nearby Oak Ridge High School, said he was concerned about his beloved Vols after Fulmer was fired and his staff released.

"I think they've put together a great staff. They've got the young guys (enthusiastic). I think it's going to be a great year next year. We're going to go places," Saunders said.

Kiffin's demeanor isn't an act — it's how he interacts with players, fellow coaches, fans and the media. It's one of his rules of coaching and playing: don't fake it.

He told the coaches they shouldn't be upset with themselves for losing, especially if they've prepared well.

Kiffin reminded the coaches that they by being great teachers they would also be great motivators and their first rule for players should be to show up. He also preached discipline.

"Tell your players what the need to hear, not what they want to hear," he said.