KNOXVILLE -- The University of Tennessee's real kickers squared off Thursday night, with juniors Daniel Lincoln and Devin Mathis kicking the same number of kicks from the same spot on the field to determine the starting nod for Saturday's game at Kentucky.
First-year UT coach Lane Kiffin said he and his staff would break down the film after practice to determine a winner, but he had no trouble announcing the victor of Thursday's offense-defense kicking competition.
Senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton, with offensive teammates snapping and holding, dinged an extra point off the right upright but celebrated wildly as it ricocheted over the top of the crossbar.
Junior defensive back Dennis Rogan's try wasn't as successful, but Kiffin didn't blame Rogan.
"It was not a very good hold by Eric (Berry), and Dennis did not get it back to the line of scrimmage, so the offense gets to eat Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow after practice," Kiffin said with his typical grin.
Kiffin joked that he finally found something Berry doesn't do well, but the coach added a teasing, parting shot that his star had a "surprise" planned for Saturday. He didn't specify anything related to the surprise.
Senior cornerback Marsalous Johnson fully participated in practice despite wearing a cast on his surgically-repaired thumb, but Kiffin was disappointed that starting junior defensive ends Chris Walker (elbow) and Ben Martin (hip) missed Wednesday's workout.
Junior starting cornerback Art Evans (shoulder) missed practice, as well.
"Obviously, the two defensive ends, we'll try to push them back tomorrow to practice, as well as (Evans)," Kiffin said.
Kiffin was otherwise pleased with what he called a "very spirited, very energetic" practice.
The Vols will practice at 9:30 this morning and eat Thanksgiving lunch before getting dismissed for the day. Players don't have to report back until 11:30 a.m. Friday, so those within driving distance of Knoxville will be allowed to go home.
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