When Josh Heupel brought his up tempo, spread offense to Knoxville, a very annoying detail followed him — fake injuries. Heupel operates at an extreme pace, putting pressure on defenses and keeping subs on the sideline. It limits the ability of defensive play-callers, too.
So how do you counter? One way is to simply fall over and fake a cramp. We saw that happen more and more as the season went on in 2021, but it was never more obvious than that notorious Ole Miss game. Every time Tennessee got any sort of rhythm, boom — injury.
Lane Kiffin’s team ended up winning that game, due in large part to that simple strategy.
Josh Heupel has not forgotten. He was asked about a lack of injury fakes this year on Monday, and he quickly tossed a little jab at the Rebels.
“I don’t know, if you just take out the Ole Miss game from last year, it’s probably pretty consistent. I don’t have (a theory on why there are less this year). It probably still appears sometimes.”
Kiffin responded last night on Twitter.
The best part of all of this is that Lane had the audacity to complain about another team faking injuries earlier this year. Watch this video from after the Texas A&M game this year, complete with video of him instructing one of his players to fake an injury back in 2020.
The issue also came up in the Music City Bowl, with Purdue utilizing the strategy to slow down the Tennessee offense. Faking injuries became so prominent that rule changes were actually heavily discussed in the offseason. Nothing came of that, but it did seem like some sort of message was delivered.
Tennessee ranks first in total offense this year, putting up 543 yards per game. They average 7.27 yards per play (3rd) and have scored 62 touchdowns on the year (1st). The only thing that has slowed them down this year is the loaded Georgia defense.
Thankfully, we have seen less fake injuries this year against Tennessee. Then again, the Vols didn’t have Ole Miss on the schedule this season.