Tennessee Football Heading in the Right Direction

Jessica HarrieContributor ISeptember 22, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators is tackled by Eric Berry #14 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

You'd have to have been living under a rock to have missed the barrage of coverage on the Lane Kiffin/Urban Meyer saga that has completely captivated the sports media networks over the past few months.

Just in case you missed it, newly appointed Tennessee Head Coach Kiffin made some playful, yet ever so slightly incorrect remarks on the recruiting practices of Florida head coach Urban Meyer.

These remarks have sparked some harsh reprimands from SEC and NCAA officials, as well as some new remarks from both sides following last week's game in which Florida (3-0, 1-0) defeated Tennessee (1-2, 0-1) 23-13, despite the 30 point blowout that was predicted.

Meyer accused Kiffin of playing conservatively and giving up on a win that could have been within their reach had they taken some more chances, and in defense of his team's poor performance he cited "flu-like symptoms" as a case of their sluggishness.

Kiffin of course had a few words of rebuttal saying, "I wish it was like basketball where we got another chance to play them, where we play them two times in a year; unfortunately we won't get to play him again, and they'll have to play without [Tim Tebow] next time."

And his final jab, "I guess we'll wait and after we're not excited about a performance, we'll tell you everybody was sick."

Ouch. So maybe that's not in the best of spirits.

One fact remains, though, Tennessee did show vast improvements during the game last week, and Vol fans can look for their beloved team to work their way back into the NCAA's big time.

What were the bright spots?

Junior All-American Safety and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Eric Berry may be the highest wattage bulb on the team, but other bright spots can be seen in players like RBs Montario Hardesty and top recruit Bryce Brown.

Both Brown and Hardesty ran the ball well in Saturday's game, and one can only assume that they will only become more confident as they settle into offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's scheme.

Monte Kiffin's revamped defense played well as a whole on Saturday against a very tough Florida offense, led by Tim "Superman" Tebow, arguably one of the greatest college quarterbacks ever.

If the Tennessee defense can maintain their first half-intensity for all four quarters, even after mistakes and missteps, they could very well be the best defense in the SEC, maybe even the entire NCAA.

The biggest problem for Tennessee this season is an extremely weak quarterback in Jonathan Crompton.

Crompton has seven interceptions in just three games this season and lacks the confidence that a great SEC quarterback needs to survive.

As Tim Tebow has proven for Florida, a strong quarterback can be the difference between a good team and the No. 1 team in the country.

Luckily for Tennessee, Lane Kiffin and his newly restructured coaching staff has already shown promising results in this year's recruiting, and next year could yield even higher gains.

Until then, Kiffin holds to his original goal of singing "Rocky Top" all night long after beating the Gators in the Swamp.