KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin says he put his Volunteers in the best position they could be in to beat Florida. Then he took one more shot at Gators coach Urban Meyer.
Meyer said Sunday that he kept his game plan conservative in No. 1 Florida's 23-13 win after he felt the Vols didn't appear to be playing for a win. He also said several of his players had been hit by the flu.
On Monday, Kiffin said he didn't want to respond to Meyer's comment. But asked whether he was worried about the flu also hitting Tennessee, he said: "I don't know. I guess we'll wait and after we're not excited about a performance, we'll tell you everybody was sick."
Tennessee (1-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) was tagged as a 30-point underdog thanks in part to some of Kiffin's offseason comments about Florida.
The Vols' first-year coach pledged to sing "Rocky Top" after beating the Gators at the Swamp and accused Meyer of an NCAA violation in trying to hang on to a recruit who eventually joined Kiffin at Tennessee.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive reprimanded Kiffin for the latter and warned all coaches about taking shots at one another.
"This offseason the commissioner made a big deal of renewing vows in terms of what we say about other teams, other coaches and other players" Kiffin said. "Obviously Urban feels he doesn't need to follow that. We won't say anything else."
Tennessee didn't play its role in what was supposed to be a Florida blowout.
With 11:37 left in the game and Florida (3-0, 1-0) holding a 23-6 lead, the Vols recovered a fumble by Tim Tebow at their own 2. Kiffin turned to running backs Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown to pound out runs and catch short passes.
That's where Meyer felt Kiffin wasn't concern about winning.
"They wanted to shorten the game. I remember looking out there and there's 10 minutes left in the game and there's no no-huddle, they are down, I think it was 23-6 and (there's no) urgency," he said.
Kiffin said he preferred to turn to his tailbacks, who had little trouble moving the chains against the Gators' defense, rather than the Vols' struggling passing game.
It worked. Montario Hardesty scored on a 17-yard run with 8:11 left to cut the margin to 23-13.
"That was the best thing to put us in position to win, and we moved the ball doing that," he said. "That was how we needed to play at that time."
With about 2 minutes left in the game and a chance to score, Kiffin gave Jonathan Crompton - who had already thrown one interception - a chance to throw down field to Denarius Moore. The pass was picked off by Ahmad Black for Crompton's seventh interception of the season.
"People should know the truth. We came out to play," Moore said. "They said it themselves. They didn't expect us to come out and play like that. We just played our hardest, and so did they."
Kiffin said the Vols got beat by Tebow, who made some key scrambling plays in third-and-long situations.
He'd also like another shot at the senior quarterback who he calls "Superman."
"I wish it was like basketball where we got another chance to play them, where we play them two times in a year," he said. "Unfortunately we won't get to play him again, and they'll have to play without (Tebow) next time."
Florida's Meyer concerned about flu bug.
The Gators got a round of flu shots Sunday, the latest precaution for a team fighting to stave off a major problem.
Running back Jeff Demps, tight end Aaron Hernandez and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham were isolated last week because of flu-like symptoms. Coach Urban Meyer said receivers coach Billy Gonzales was sent home Monday because he was feeling ill and had a fever.
No player has had a confirmed case of swine flu, but Meyer did say he was concerned the virus could ravage his team.
Meyer said team doctors and trainers were doing everything they could to prevent an outbreak. They have hand sanitizer and prevention checklists all around the training facility, and are telling players to stay hydrated and monitor their weight regularly.
The regular flu shots were the latest course of action. They came about a week after one school official predicted that as many as 40 percent of students could catch swine flu.
Demps, Cunningham and Hernandez all played against Tennessee on Saturday, but none of them seemed up to par.
Auburn-Tennessee game set for ESPN
ESPN will televise the Oct. 3 Auburn-Tennessee game and has set kickoff for 7:45 p.m.