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Kiffin keeps quiet on SEC reprimand

Tennessee head football coach Lane Kiffin directs his team practices during the first day of football spring practice Tuesday, March 10, 2009 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Tennessee head football coach Lane Kiffin directs his team practices during the first day of football spring practice Tuesday, March 10, 2009 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Lane Kiffin was asked several times Tuesday about being reprimanded by the SEC.

Tennessee's coach reserved comment - as best he could.

"As hard as it is for me to do, I'm not getting into it," Kiffin said with a grin. "I'd like to."

The SEC reprimanded Kiffin on Monday after he criticized the officiating in Tennessee's 12-10 loss to Alabama on Saturday. Kiffin hinted he did so to stand up for his players following a game in which they were penalized seven more times for 58 more yards than the Crimson Tide.

"I think that you guys know me," Kiffin said to the media. "I think we have great confidence in our players. We always stand up for our players."

Kiffin cited his public stance on quarterback Jonathan Crompton as proof that such allegiance can pay dividends. Crompton has played well in UT's past two games despite a shaky start to the season, which prompted many fans to call for him to be benched.

"When they see me saying things, they know that I have confidence in them that we can play against anybody," Kiffin said. "They know that this staff isn't worried about who we play or where we're playing.

"They believe that we can put together a plan that we can go beat everybody. I think that's what your goal is."

Defensive tackle Wes Brown said he appreciates Kiffin standing up for his players.

"When you have a coach that goes to battle for you, it really instills confidence in you," the senior said. "You really believe in what he says. It goes from him to our senior leadership then throughout the whole team."

Offensive tackle Aaron Douglas was not surprised by Kiffin's comments.

"That's expected," Douglas said. "He's always got our back through anything."

Kiffin said he's noticed the Vols are developing a swagger.

"I do think they take if from their staff," he said. "I think they take if from the way that you are around them, the confidence you have in them."

Dandy Douglas. Kiffin cited Douglas' play as one of the reasons UT's offense has improved.

"It was a great change moving him there from tight end," Kiffin said of the position switch made in January. "He's going to be a great tackle for us. That has been a difference for us."

Kiffin called Douglas a perfect fit for UT's offensive system because he is athletic enough to block linebackers.

"He fits really good," Kiffin said. "If we find a couple more of those, we'll win some championships."

Douglas has started four consecutive games for the Vols after replacing Jarrod Shaw following the Florida game.

Kiffin said Douglas' mentality has helped him improve.

"This is a highly competitive individual, very tough, very aggressive, loves to scrap it up," Kiffin said.

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